Cities must plan for the elderly, warns OECD

Cities may need to rethink their infrastructure and provide inter-generational homes to cater for the needs of their ageing populations.

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlights these and other challenges as the average age of the urban dweller increases. While many UK cities are seeing an influx of younger people, overall the number of over 65s in urban areas in OECD countries rose by almost 24% over 2001-2011.

The effects of an ageing population are similar in urban and rural areas, but cities will face particular challenges in adjusting, says the report, Ageing in cities.

Its recommendations include:

  • Development of housing to suit different living arrangements, eg, multi-generational homes
  • Improved walkability in urban areas
  • A review of public transport. The report says features such as flights of stairs in stations, may pose physical barriers to older people, particularly those who have used cars throughout their lives and are not used to public transport.

Suburban areas and new towns initially developed through the 1960s and 1970s may need particular attention as their first residents age. These communities were also designed around private car use.

The report says ageing populations provide economic opportunities around smart home and assistive technology and software to enhance safety or quality of life for older people.

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