The world’s population is getting older. In fact, in 2050 there will be, “for the very first time in the history of humanity”, more people aged 60 or over than kids aged from 0 to 14, according to a report prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Spain is not an exception: nowadays, in comparison to 1980, 25,4% fewer children are born and in 2050 one out of three Spaniards will be more than 65 years old.
It is also estimated that in 2030 three out of five people worldwide will live in big cities. Having these forecasts in mind we need to ask ourselves: are these cities designed with seniors in mind? Or maybe the opposite, they are filled with challenging obstacles?
Underground stations without elevators, plenty of stairs to climb and few ramps are just some examples of all the difficulties that an elderly person faces everyday in the city.
Some of them can put their life in danger, just as is the case of the green light duration for pedestrians. While a young person crosses the street with the average speed of 1,2 meters per second, an elderly person does it at 0,8 meters per second, according to a study made by the University College of London.
Carlos Carnicer, an architect and a town planner, considers that “the cities and the urban furniture need to adapt to the necessities” of the senior citizens that nowadays become more and more active. Carnicer also claims that “both overall and in Europe new campaigns emerge and fresh ideas of housing and organization appear in order to respond to this demographic trend”.
One example is the Age-Friendly World project (AFC), developed by the WHO: a Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
With the motto “add life to years” their goal is to create Age Inclusive cities that keep the particular needs of senior citizens in mind and that can benefit from the potential, the abilities and the knowledge with which the elderly people can contribute to the community.
Barcelona, a senior-friendly city
Among the 287 cities and communities that form the global network we can find Barcelona.
Ever since its first appearance in the network in 2011, Barcelona put into effect a series of actions and projects to improve the quality of life of their citizens as they grow older.
El Pla municipal per a les persones grans formally incorporates all the undertaken commitments, among them parks with activities to promote physical activity among elderly people.
Another action performed by the city, founded with the aim of facilitating life for the citizens aged 75 or more, is the Proyecto Radars. Thanks to it those seniors who live alone or with another older people can now still reside in their homes with the complicity of their environment that guarantees their social well-being.
As its name suggests, it uses “radars” that, unlike we could imagine, are not technological devices but other citizens that feel responsible for and take care of their neighbours. This way we create new neighbourhoods based on humanity and solidarity, where the risk of loneliness, exclusion and isolation, from which some of the seniors suffer, is being lowered.
Source: La Vanguardia