Everyone knows we have an aging population in America, but what does it mean for American cities?
Check out this fascinating AP piece: “Aging boomers strain cities built for the young“.
Apart from some painful prose — like “silver tsunami” to describe the growing ranks of seniors — the piece covers some interesting details, especially efforts in NYC:
Last year, East Harlem became the city’s first “aging improvement district.” Sixty stores, identified with window signs, agreed to put out folding chairs to let older customers rest as they do their errands. The stores also try to keep aisles free of tripping hazards and use larger type so signs are easier to read. A community pool set aside senior-only hours so older swimmers could get in their laps without faster kids and teens in the way.
On one long block, accountant Henry Calderon welcomes older passers-by to rest in his air-conditioned lobby even if they’re not customers. They might be, one day.
“It’s good for business but it’s good for society,” too, he said.
More than 200 times, school buses have taken older adults from senior centers to supermarkets in different neighborhoods. It’s just one of a variety of initiatives begun in 2009 by the New York Academy of Medicine and the city’s government to address the needs of older residents. Already, they’re showing results.
A city report found the number of crashes has dropped at busy intersections in senior-heavy communities where traffic signals now allow pedestrians a few more seconds to cross the street.
Benches have been placed in nearly 2,700 bus shelters to give waiting seniors a place to rest.
The city’s aging taxi fleet is scheduled to be replaced by a boxier model designed to be easier for older riders and people with disabilities to open the doors and slide in and out.
On the Upper West Side, seniors snapped up a report card of grocery stores deemed age-friendly because they offer deliveries, have public bathrooms — a rarity in the city — and sell single portions of fresh meat, poultry or fish, important for people who live alone.
Artists volunteer to teach at senior centers in return for space to work on or display their own creations.
And a “Time Bank” is letting hundreds of people of different ages and with different skills essentially barter services.
The AP piece also pays some attention to similar efforts in Atlanta, for example:
The Atlanta Regional Commission’s Lifelong Communities Initiative is pushing communities that help people age in place. Efforts are under way in six metro areas, including work to adapt zoning codes to allow more of a walkable mix of housing and retail.