Physical, social and economic environments are important determinants of healthy ageing and powerful influences in the experience of ageing and the opportunities that ageing offers. The UN Decade of Healthy Ageing, a global collaboration to improve the lives of older people, their families, and the communities in which they live has designated age-friendly environments as one of the four areas of action, the others being integrated care, long-term care and combatting ageism.
The age-friendly cities and communities framework in 2002 has transitioned into the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities with over 1,400 members from more than 51 countries, covering over 300 million people worldwide. The unprecedented growth seen in recent years (and since its inception) signifies the sustained interest and commitment of cities, communities and nations in ensuring the rights, functional ability, and autonomy of older people remain central and prioritized alongside shifting demographics.
Policies, systems, services, products and technologies are needed to address the social determinants of healthy ageing and facilitate people of all capacities and capabilities to continue to do the things that they value. Age-friendly environments are better places to grow, to live, to work, to play and to age. They enable older people with a wide range of capacities to age safely, be protected, continue personal and professional development, and participate in and contribute to their communities while retaining their autonomy, dignity, health, and well-being.
Age-friendly planning and activities should be conducted across diverse sectors and multiple levels of government and involve and leverage the expertise and experience of civil society and the private sector and be guided by the participation of older people.
The Decade enablers namely voice and engagement, leadership and capacity building, connecting stakeholders, and strengthening research, data and innovation serve as important structures to inform and build better policies to foster healthy ageing at a local and country level.
Physical, social and economic environments are important determinants of healthy ageing and powerful influences on both the experience of ageing and the opportunities that ageing offers. Age-friendly environments are created by removing physical and social barriers and implementing policies, systems, services, products and technologies to: promote health and build and maintain physical and mental capacity throughout the life course; and enable people, even with diminished capacity, to continue to do the things they value.