The number of people over 65 years old is projected to double by 2050. This will happen in all regions alike, while the world continues to urbanize. The change in age composition of urban population will permanently change their needs and approaches – with long-term implications on sustainable urban development. Age, in fact, affects the way people live, move and socialise in urban areas.
Older persons experience challenges in accessing housing, mobility, public spaces and basic services, as well as opportunities generated in cities. These challenges often include difficulties in finding affordable housing, ability to afford necessary maintenance and adaptive changes, limited access, or barriers to, mobility, potential gaps in availability of appropriate supportive services such as home care and information. Further, the current discussion around older persons is lacking accurate data about their actual needs, challenges and potentials which hamper the development of needed solutions and evidence-based policies.
Sustainable and inclusive cities and communities, on the other hand, foster healthy and active ageing and enable older persons to age safely and contribute to their communities while retaining autonomy and dignity.
The New Urban Agenda promotes this vision by committing to “addressing the social, economic and spatial implications of ageing populations” and “promoting governance processes that enable effective participation and inclusion of older persons in decision-making on urban and territorial development”. Similarly, it commits to promoting equitable and affordable access to basic physical and social infrastructure with special attention to ensuring that these services consider the rights and needs of older persons, requiring integrated age- and gender-sensitive housing policies and approaches.
Particularly relevant is the gender dimension of population ageing as women have longer life expectancies and are more prone to live alone after the death of their partner. This raises concerns in terms of their income security, social inclusion, but also neglect and abuse.