Thursday 1 October marks the silver jubilee of the International Day of Older Persons. To mark the occasion, Margaret Devlin and Judy Blakey from Auckland Council's Senior Advisory Panel share their view on ageing in Auckland.
One immutable fact is that we all get old. A second fact is that we have an ageing population – one in ten Aucklanders is over 65 years of age.
With these simple facts in mind, it makes sense that we should be designing a city that we will be able to use and enjoy from cradle to grave. In other words, an age-friendly city – one that provides an urban environment that enables all residents to optimise their quality of life.
Getting it right for the rapidly increasing numbers of older Aucklanders requires active engagement and innovative planning. Universal access should be an automatic consideration in all initiatives from urban design to event management to information services. Many of the actions are achievable through designing and planning in a smarter way, using existing resources and building on some of the great features we already have in place across Auckland. This planning will also need to take into account the growing diversity of ethnicities in the senior community.
The World Health Organisation has developed a framework identifying the key features of age-friendly cities, which encourage and sustain seniors’ active involvement in their communities. These features cover communication, respect and social inclusion, participation and employment, housing, transportation, outdoor spaces and buildings, community support and health services. We think all Auckland communities and organisations can and should adopt this framework.
In 2017 Auckland will host the World Masters Games, where older active people from around the world will be visiting our city. So let’s start now to evaluate Auckland’s age-friendliness. Let's ensure that our community is an inclusive one that celebrates our seniors as vital contributors to Auckland’s social diversity, and let’s start seeing development in all areas that will put Auckland on the global stage as the world’s most accessible city.