By Kartika Liotard - 7th October 2012
If we broaden our perspective and start focusing on improving the conditions over the entire life course, we will be able to create societies accommodating for all ages
Urban areas need to become more attractive and accommodating for senior citizens to provide an independent lifestyle and a fulfilling social life, argues Kartika Liotard
Over the last few decades, the EU has demonstrated an increasing awareness of the implications of an ageing population. Since its establishment in 1982, the European parliament’s intergroup on ageing has called for a more integrated approach in this regard, by pointing out the urgency of dealing with the consequences of our ageing populations in a more comprehensive and overarching manner.
The European year 2012 on active ageing (EY2012) and the European innovation partnership on active and healthy ageing (EIP AHA) are taking very important steps in developing comprehensive strategies, not only for our senior fellow-citizens, but also for the younger generations. If we want to help create a healthier life in old age, and if we want to make sure that older people are enabled to participate in society, we should not only focus on today’s elderly, but everyone.
Indeed, I believe we should focus on improving the environment and conditions in which we grow and mature. We need to strive for the best possible conditions from cradle to grave.
We should also keep in mind that national ageing patterns are reflected at the urban level, implying that many urban areas are ageing quickly. Hence, I am convinced that the EY2012 and the EIP AHA create an excellent opportunity to encourage regional and local decision makers to take local ageing issues seriously, to further examine its consequences and to age-mainstream their local policies, programmes and services. Since urban areas are not always the most suitable places to grow old, regional and local decision makers could contribute to the EU objectives by transforming their urban areas into attractive places, not only to invest and work, but also to live.
Adapting urban areas to the needs of the elderly will require the participation of elderly people themselves, to get better insight in what seniors need, where they need it and when they need it most. This implies that more accurate assessment and monitoring tools should be applied, so as to create sound and evidence-based information, from which sustainable policy strategies and innovative intervention programmes and technologies can be developed.
It is in this respect that the European parliament’s intergroup on ageing promotes the agricultural funding consortium, which brings together the essential knowledge to transform urban areas into places where European citizens across generations can benefit from an active and healthy life, a community where older citizens can live an independent life which enables them to develop their potential and make full use of their competences, and a place where they can enjoy a fulfilling social life.
Kartika Liotard is co-chair of the European parliament's ageing intergroup