How can the New Urban Agenda respect the elderly—and make cities better for all of us in the process?

1 minute read

May 30, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By Elana Eden

Elderly Walking

Nejc Vesel / Shutterstock

Ahead of the Habitat III conference in Ecuador, which will result in a New Urban Agenda, advocate Sion Jones urges urbanists worldwide to prioritize the needs of the aging and elderly.

Aging "change[s] the way we live, work, play, socialize, and experience our urban environments," Jones writes. Yet the needs pertaining to that experience are frequently not incorporated into policy or design. As a result, "our rights in the city are often compromised, particularly in older age, due to the social, economic and spatial characteristics of our cities."

Jones offers 10 areas of study to ensure a new urban agenda will include and respect the elderly.

For instance, Design housing for life (#5) includes both "flexible design" that can assure the ability to age in place, and broad policy changes that recognize tenancy rights and informal settlements.

Though progress in these areas would particularly benefit the elderly, it’s also clear that they would make cities more livable for everyone: Investing in sustainable transportation (#2) and combatting air pollution (#8) clean everyone’s air. But the elderly may feel certain needs more acutely, and urbanists may do well to build on their experiences to find solutions for all.

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