Age friendly neighbourhood design promoted – The London Free Press

London neighbourhoods need to become “age friendly,” allowing city seniors to stay in their homes longer, states a city hall report going to politicians Tuesday.

When communities are built, they should be made more “walkable,” featuring sidewalks in good condition, transit stops, with safety a priority and a mix of housing types, all designed to support the elderly, said Michelle Dellamora, a specialist in municipal policy with the city.

“We want to look at neighbourhoods in London where people live and make sure they can get around. People want to age in place.”

The city is in the midst of the Age Friendly London Action Plan, a three-year initiative aimed at making London a more age friendly community and its focus now should be on neighbourhood improvements, states an annual progress report going to the Community and Protective Services Committee, Tuesday.

“We want to create a guide for builders, planners and designers on what an age friendly neighbourhood looks like,” said Dellamora.

The plan lays out a wide range of goals, from building and planning initiatives, to developing programs and services and even organizing conferences where seniors can volunteer, or just learn about aging issues.

It is critical to the city’s future as London is aging fast. In 2016, for the first time, the city had more adults older than 65, than younger than  age of 14. By 2035, one in three Londoners is expected to be 55 or older.

“This is all about long-term planning for our city. Our senior population is growing at twice the rate of our overall population,” said Dellamora.

In its first year, the report recommended bettering parks for seniors, establishing a seniors’ cycling program and holding educational workshops on various issues. An age friendly conference and volunteer event also was held.

In year two, among its goals, the program wants city hall to, “develop a guide for builders, planners, and designers on the needs of older adults that support aging in place,” states the report.

It wants better signage for London parks, walking programs promoted, and to let seniors know what programs and services are available to them.

“We have seen progress over the past year,” said Dellamora. “It is a continuation of the work and community engagement we have built with older adults.”

But the elderly are not the only ones to benefit from the age friendly initiative, as all who have mobility issues  will see benefits, said Coun. Maureen Cassidy, chairperson of the committee.

“I am very aware of what we need to do. People want to stay in their home. It is where they do best. They thrive there,” said Cassidy.

“Better mobility options are not just good for aging but for all people with mobility issues from every age group.”

This is the second community action plan for Age Friendly London, with the first completed from 2013 to 2016. This second action plan study will be carried out to 2020, having begun in 2017. It aims to strengthen community networks, reaching out to various community groups, including multicultural ones. It also has worked with Western University and Fanshawe College on research on various aging issues.