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How to find a home in an age friendly world

Finding the perfect overseas location for future retirement, at whatever age that may come, can be a tricky thing to do. Here’s an unusual checklist for senior expats, to help them decide on the best location.

A dream place now, in your 50s or 60s, may turn in to a nightmare in your 70s or 80s, or if not exactly a nightmare, it may simply be a location that doesn’t respect and look out for older generations.

Not only is the topic of age-friendly locations a local issue for expats, it’s also a global issue, and one that is of great concern to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Two general trends that the WHO highlights in its report ‘Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide’ are global urbanisation (people moving in to cities) and that the world population is rapidly ageing: the number of people aged 60 and over as a proportion of the global population will double from 11 percent in 2006 to 22 percent by 2050.

The significance of that, believes the WHO, is that the world at large needs to plan cities to better accommodate and look after over 60s.

Connectivity and activity

The WHO report notes: “An age-friendly world enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities and treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age. It is a place that makes it easy for older people to stay connected to people that are important to them. And it helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages and provides appropriate support to those who can no longer look after themselves.”

The WHO Age-friendly Cities framework developed in the Global Age-friendly Cities Guide (based on 35 participating cities from all continents) has eight interconnected “domains” that can help to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older people:

How to find a home in an age friendly world

This may all seems a bit dry and theoretical, but in fact in could be a useful tool if you are thinking of moving overseas or thinking of downsizing your home and wondering where would be the best place for you in older age. Using the WHO criteria (above) and explained in more detail in the Guide, look around a potential location and carry out an audit. Does it provide good public transport?

Are facilities easily accessible? Are there facilities for social participation, volunteering and employment? All these things help older generations feel a sense of belonging in a community, which reduces isolation and can potentially help avoid depression and illness.

Many cities and communities are already taking active steps towards becoming more age-friendly. You can find them on the dedicated website, Age-friendly World, which provides guides and tools, age-friendly practices and information on hundreds of city and community initiatives around the world.

The town of Peterborough, in Central Ontario, Canada has created Best Before Date – a tongue-in-check campaign with a serious message: to change attitudes and perceptions about their seniors.

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