If you have strolled through any town centre, one might be reminded of the current trend in population growth towards an ageing demographic. This means that in the 21st century preoccupation in town planning would not go far wrong by considering greater accessibility for our senior community. Given there are good reasons to go shopping along the high street for many of those in later years, they will greatly benefit from other age friendly qualities attributed to any one particular location within the local community.
A town eco-system thrives on a strong community infrastructure where our older residents are fully engaged with all aspects of town life, who will then feel included wherever they are. An application of separate ingredients will no doubt contribute to an age friendly town centre but better still working together symbiotically to form a greater melting pot that forms the life and soul of any urban environment. Consider the following as these ingredients:
- As we age, we tend to reduce our speed of walking. At 65 we tend to walk at an average of 3km an hour but by the age of 80 it can be as little as 2km an hour so obviously less ground can be covered at a given amount of time. Some towns are easier for a slow walker when walking distance between the main attractions are less. Though some senior citizens may have stopped driving, those who still do have access will prioritise parking spaces as a major deal breaker. Some hospitals will charge for parking spaces and those spaces which are available placed centrally frequently come at a high premium. On the other hand, affordable, frequent and reliable public transport like buses should promote easy access but only if the custodians are informed and communicative about the routes they represent. An increase in the freedom to roam is a notable way to relieve depression in old age.
- As a growing elderly population is set to shape the future of our communities, affordable housing is paramount for them, fully adapted to their needs.
- Conditions of a town’s infrastructure are important i.e. the state of the pavements, public thoroughfares and buildings. Narrow pavements full of cracks and potholes are full of safety hazards with accidents waiting to happen. Working public convivences can make a big difference for those with health problems though only if they are regularly open. Navigation is another issue for town planning. When out and about, issues with dementia would appear far more manageable only on condition the essential landmarks are clearly signposted. Many of the over 65s are more likely to come with their friends and stay for the evening if they are feeling safe. Good lighting is an incentive, likewise antisocial behaviour should also appear well under control.
- Half of over 65s now shop over the internet. How they are to be enticed back onto the high street is a fundamental question for the future. A community is where people meet their friends and share wonderful memories so food for thought might run along the lines of meeting places, exhibitions cafes and restaurants. Web usage has risen from 16 to 48 percent with the present generation prepared to use IT. Attractive community venues are needed to support social cohesion in town if we are to avoid the lamentable demise of the town centre.
Age Concern Colchester formed the Veranda wishing to create a vibrant community hub where our older generation can come and go as they please so that they felt safe, included and less lonely. This is what we would call a mega mix of different clubs and activities including bingo, line dancing, yoga, keep fit, coffee mornings, knit and natter, craft, art, support in loss sessions, chiropody, pensions advice and a legal surgery. Ready to give Veranda Age Concern Colchester a go? Well there are plenty of friendship groups and clubs to take your fancy, something for everyone, whatever your persuasion and on any particular day of the week! Phone 01206 368420 for inquires or take a look at our timetable below: