Healthy ageing in cities and regions: inspiring examples to frame the future

On 9th October 2019, Homes4Life contributed to the workshop “Healthy ageing in cities and regions” organised in the context of the European week of Regions and Cities.

Europe is ageing. Action is needed at all governance levels to review the way our society is organized and create a fair and sustainable society for all ages. This workshop was the opportunity to uncover why some ageing policies have been more successful than others and help cities and regions tap into the potential that older people present while also overcoming some of the constraints and challenges that urban environments often pose on older residents.

The event was opened by a speech of Taina Tukiainen, on behalf of Markku Markkula. She reminded us about key political milestones paving the way towards an active and healthy European Union: from the opinion adopted by the Committee of the Regions in 2012 (ECOS-V-026) to the new one adopted on 9 October 2019 (NAT-VI/037) through the different EU and Presidency initiatives such as the Conference held in Helsinki on Silver Economy (July 2019).

We focused then on concrete examples from different places across Europe. Starting with the ACPA project (Adapting European Cities to Population Ageing: Policy Challenges and Best Practices) which provided a key frame and several illustrative examples from the 8 cities involved. Moving then to Manchester and Krakow who shared their experience regarding their step-by-step adaptation to the ageing challenge. Last but not least, two projects provided a domain approach: Homes4Life (Development of a European certification scheme to support ageing in place) and the Joint Action ADVANTAGE (Preventing and better understanding frailty to foster longer and healthier life).

The main recommendations to support healthy ageing at city level:

  • Build a narrative based citizen approach: ageing is not only about a medical and care approach;
  • Organize and plan cities for persons of all ages: fostering solidarity between generations is key for a sustainable future;
  • Ensure a strong political support with a fair funding: the voice of your mayor is key;
  • Develop an ecosystem enhancing close collaboration between various stakeholders (citizens, researchers, policy makers, businesses): everyone has a role to play;
  • Enable an active involvement of older persons and citizens at large in the development and implementation of policies and activities: “Because older people are the ultimate experts on their own lives“ (WHO, 2007)
  • Provide a proper problem analysis and evaluation of the solutions implemented: this is key to learn lessons and move forward while ensuring continuity when needed;
  • Overcome negativism and stereotypes: creating a positive view on ageing so we all can look forward to a positive future in later life.

Last but not least, this workshop was an additional proof that investing in international and European cooperation is key to learn from the others, share experiences and get further inspiration.

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