Few cities are prepared to accommodate the needs of an aging population, says Age-Forward Cities for 2030, a report by the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging, a Santa Monica, Calif., think tank.
Many cities lack the housing, design, service, economic opportunity, transit and amenities to address seniors’ needs. That’s despite the fact that by 2030 those over the age of 60 will outnumber those under the age of 10,
Creative senior programs
So when you’re looking at a prospective retirement city, look closely at its long-term plan for an aging population and how well it addresses seniors’ needs before making a commitment.
Some cities have made strides by responding to seniors’ challenges with innovative program.
DenverConnect helps Denver, Colo., seniors find service, including one that pairs them with volunteers who will shovel their snow. And through a Washington D.C., pilot program, seniors living in food deserts got subsidized rides to grocery stores.
Shared housing eases affordability challenges
Elsewhere, initiatives are focused squarely on housing and helping seniors to stay in their neighborhoods as they age.
In places where housing is costly, having a roommate can help seniors stay in their homes and apartments
Both the ALA Shared Housing in Los Angeles and the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens in New York City connect seniors with suitable roommates who can share expenses and household chores.
It takes a village
The Village concept creates support networks that allow seniors to age in place by keeping them connected socially and by bringing services – rides, home repairs, and lawn care, for instance -- that often are provided by volunteers.
Though members usually pay an annual fee to join, Villages work because of neighbors’ willingness to help neighbors.
Boston’s Beacon Hill Village pioneered the concept, and it provides information for others wanting to establish a Village in their own city.
Advocate for your future self
If you’re staying in your hometown, look at its deficits and the improvements you’d like to see.
Get involved in community agencies and groups that push for aging resources and find ways to get your voice heard. Vote for representatives that value seniors and have a plan to address their needs.
Always advocate for your future self.