Aged-friendly communities are a must for Valley's ageing population.
Aged-friendly communities are a must for Valley's ageing population. ljubaphoto

What makes a city the ideal place to get older?

WITH retirees making up most of the Clarence Valley's population, it seems only natural that the region would continue the development of age-friendly environments.

In 2006 the World Health Organisation examined 33 cities to identify what elements made them an ideal place to grow old. Based on this data, here is what the Clarence Valley can aspire to:

Getting around

With older people less likely to drive, affordable and accessible ways to get around the Clarence Valley are crucial to the success of an age-friendly city.

New York, for example, added 1500 benches and 3500 upgraded bus shelters, strategically placing them within 250 metres of hospitals and community facilities.

In Nottingham, UK, more than 300 businesses signed up to the Take a Seat program that encourages businesses to have a seat available for an older person to catch their breath and rest. Older residents know which premises are taking part by the "We are age friendly" sticker.

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In England, free public transport was made available to residents over 60 to study the effect it had on their mental health. The results revealed fewer cases of depression and other mental health symptoms due to a reduction in loneliness, increased participation in volunteering activities and increased contact with children and friends.

Where to live

Residential developments around the Clarence Valley are booming. However, it's crucial for these new homes to cater to the needs of older residents without alienating residents from the rest of the world.

European endeavours avoid sterile architecture reminiscent of a hospital ward.

For example, the Ørestad development in Copenhagen has created a series of sophisticated, mixed-use residential areas for older citizens who each come with a wide range of care needs.

The exterior of each building is brightly coloured to help with identity and wayfinding, and residents are required to pass through a series of social spaces to get to and from their apartment, encouraging interaction and socialisation among residents.

Most buildings include facilities such as cafes, a hairdresser or medical centre for ease of accessibly.

Getting involved with the community

Providing opportunities for older residents to participate and contribute to life in the Clarence Valley is crucial for a successful age-friendly region.

While many older residents have already taken up volunteering within their immediate community, other cities have become even more innovative in providing "purposeful ageing".

In Hong Kong the Elder-Friendly Employment Practice has created a supportive elderly employment program which reflects flexible working hours, improved accessibility to the work environment and supportive policy.

Birmingham in England has incorporated healthy ageing into community discussions and vision.

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