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

EUWeekRegions&Cities-Covenant_event_Oct2019-AS

  
Our ageing Europe requires all governance levels to review the way our society is organized so as to make it a fair and sustainable for all ages. The same holds for cities and regions. In a recent joint workshop, we found out why some ageing policies have been more successful than others and how cities and regions can tap into the potential offered by their ageing population.

The event was opened by Taina Tukiainen, who spoke on behalf of Markku Markkula, first Vice-President of the Committee of the regions. 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 to the new one adopted on 9 October 2019 through the different EU and Presidency initiatives such as the Conference held in Helsinki in July 2019 on Silver Economy.

Then, concrete examples from different places across Europe were showcased. 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.

“It is crucial to have a solid overview of both societal developments (‘policymaker’s view’) and understanding of how older people perceive their lives (‘senior’s view’)”, highlighted the keynote speaker, Erik Van Ossenbruggen.

Moving then to Manchester and Krakow who shared their experience regarding their step-by-step adaptation to the ageing challenge with a successful focus on older residents’ participation.

Greater Manchester’s vision is that older residents are able to contribute to and benefit from sustained prosperity and enjoy a good quality of life”, pointed out Paul McGarry.

"It is really encouraging to see how older citizens of Krakow, Poland can be active thanks to a lot of opportunities (for free) which aiming to prolong their active and healthy life”, added Jolanta Perek-Bialas

After those cities' experience, two projects provided a domain approach:

Silvia Urra Uriarte explained the comprehensive vision of the Homes4Life project, which “does not focus only on housing: a home involves also the interaction with the overall community”. Homes4Life aims at developing a European certification scheme to support ageing in place.

AdvantAGE_projet-logoAs part of the Joint Action ADVANTAGE, working on frailty prevention to foster longer and healthier life, Cinzia Giammarchi and Cristina Alonso presented the Face Up Frailty campaign. “Frailty is not an inevitable consequence of ageing, it can be prevented to foster a longer and healthier life: Face Up Frailty, together we can make a difference!”.
  

The workshop concluded with the following main recommendations to support healthy ageing at city level:

  • Focus the old age narrative on citizens : 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 the 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 assessment of the problems encountered and of the solutions implemented: this is key to draw lessons and move forward while ensuring continuity;
  • Overcome negativism and stereotypes: creating a positive perception of 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 one another, share experiences and get further inspiration.

  
As a partner, AGE actively contributed to the event, co-organised by ESPON, the European Covenant on Demographic Change and the Joint Action ADVANTAGE as part of European Week of Regions and Cities.
  

Useful links:

  
For further information on this event and on AGE participation, please contact Julia Wadoux, julia.wadoux@age-platform.eu

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