39 Ways to Prepare for the Senior Tsunami

July 11th, 2011 by @lamberts

Homecare Advocate: 39 Ways to Prepare for the Senior TsunamiThis year marked the beginning of a new wave of seniors as the first boomers cross over at a staggering rate of thousands each day.  In less than 30 years, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older! No doubt that our geographic landscape will change tremendously over the next several decades, but what about the physical landscape?  What will we do to create age friendly communities so people of all ages can access and contribute to our public spaces?

CBS just released an article on how a few cities are championing these age friendly changes through a combination of invested interests of nonprofits, government, and private enterprise.  According to the article, “It will take some creative steps to make New York and other cities age-friendly enough to help the coming crush of older adults stay active and independent in their home. ‘It’s about changing the way we think about the way we’re growing old in our community, ‘ said New York Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. ‘The phrase end of life does not apply anymore’…  It has a huge impact not just on how many years they will live, but how well they will live them.”

Quality of life is a huge part of these age friendly changes that are beginning to occur across the country.  The World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the concept of age friendly initiatives, describing an Age-friendly City as “an inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active aging”.

By focusing on how to keep people active, connected, and involved, we are able to keep a huge segment of our population contributing and engaged economically, culturally, socially, and spiritually.

39 age friendly ideas for your community:

  1. Promote access to home and community-based services that support aging in place
  2. Increase number of benches in public spaces
  3. Provide job training for occupations that can be done by seniors
  4. Develop a voucher program for low-income seniors to use public transportation
  5. Educate physicians about geriatric care
  6. Offer deliveries as a service
  7. Programs for elderly and disabled to modify current home to meet physical needs
  8. Place products in places that are easy to reach
  9. Stores keep aisles free of tripping hazards
  10. Expand pedestrian-friendly spaces
  11. Educate the community about services offered
  12. Pave sidewalks and passageways so the ground is even and doesn’t pose a tripping hazard
  13. Have places in businesses for people to sit and rest as needed
  14. Provide extra customer service for the elderly both in person and over the phone
  15. Bring in farmers markets during the weekdays
  16. Practice priority seating for elderly and people with disabilities
  17. Provide loan assistance for home repairs that keep one living safely at home
  18. Use larger-type fonts so that people can read signage
  19. Offer time-banking where each hour of contribution of a service can be redeemed for an hour of receiving a service from another person in the program
  20. Recruit talented individuals to teach a class in a senior center
  21. Sell single portions of fresh meat
  22. Secure neighborhoods to allow seniors to safely and confidently come out and participate
  23. Develop mixed-use space for one to have a variety of activities within walking distance
  24. Extend the length of pedestrian walk-signals to allow additional time to cross the street
  25. Install brighter lights to help avoid falls
  26. Increase green spaces
  27. Offer driving refresher courses to help seniors drive safely and confidently
  28. Educate about universal design features to builders, architects, contractors, and urban planners
  29. Offer roomier taxis to better accommodate those with disabilities
  30. Frequent, reliable public transportation
  31. Increase number of clean public restrooms
  32. Provide volunteer opportunities for seniors to contribute and connect with others
  33. Perseverance of the local convenience stores instead of large big-box stores that are difficult to navigate through
  34. Conduct a study to assess mobility needs of your community’s elderly population
  35. Encourage all new buildings and business spaces to include non-slip floors, wider hallways, elevators/escalators/ramps, wheelchair accessible checkouts
  36. Install ramps in public spaces
  37. Support non-profits serving the elderly population
  38. Create a safe environment for passengers on public transportation and in public spaces
  39. Increase the number of handicapped parking spots and enforce compliance

    Age friendly plans are important for all of us to begin implementing.  Certain states like Florida, Maine, Wyoming, and New Mexico have a significantly higher than average growth rate of the senior population; over 27% of Floridians will be over 65 by 2030!  What new initiatives do you want to see in your community?


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