Host of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) "The Gerontologist Podcast" Howard B. Degenholtz interviewed Kathy Black, PhD, a professor in the School of Aging Studies, about her recent article, "Assessing Age-Friendly Community Progress: What Have We Learned?"
Black's article, which was published in the special issue of The Gerontologist, Age-Friendly Environments, opened the issue and summarized the overall performance of age-friendly communities. According to Black, the framework of being age-friendly focuses on developing and supporting community features that make environments better for people of all abilities to age in.
"About 15 years ago I started working with the communities, retirement communities, aging-in-place initiatives, and as I listened more to where the majority of older people reside – which is communities and not institutions – I realized it was about living fully, and it was about the positive aspects of living and not just the traditional negative paradigm," Black said.
Developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the WHO Age-friendly Cities framework outlines eight interconnected domains of urban life that "help to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older people." These domains include transportation, housing, social participation, outdoor spaces, and employment.
Black stresses the importance of including older adults at the table, noting that a "nothing about us without us" process is necessary for success in building an age-friendly community.
"The goal to stay in this movement is to embed this so that those professionals and those leaders now carry this on, and they put that 100-year lifespan in everything that they do," Black said.
Black notes that we will need to wait longer for the movement to develop to see the major changes. She sees it as a journey and not a destination – a process in which there is a lot of progress being made as the older population continues to grow.