Age-friendly cities benefit all demographics since these cities tap the economic benefits and social capital of more age groups, and typically lead with more infrastructure innovations. This results in healthier communities.
As the first step, the county is partnering with the Center for Age-Friendly Excellence (CAFE), a program housed in the Los Altos Community Foundation, on a pilot project to achieve World Health Organization (WHO) designation for three communities within the county over the coming year. WHO has developed evidence-based standards and programs (per eight measurable domains) to guide cities.
Making both cities and rural communities age-friendly is an effective local policy approach for responding to population aging, according to WHO. The physical and social environments are key determinants of whether people can remain healthy, independent and autonomous long into their old age.
The WHO age-friendly cities guide highlights eight domains that cities and communities can address to better adapt their structures and services to the needs of older people: the built environment, transport, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication, and community support and health services.
The pilot project is funded by the county and they selected CAFE as their partner because of its successful prior work with Santa Clara County and the model process they developed, which resulted in every city in Santa Clara County achieving Global Age-Friendly Community designation.
San Mateo County staff and a core group of community leaders from throughout the county identified Redwood City as their first age-friendly city and then will expand their focus to Daly City and Pacifica. CAFE has already organized a six-month task force to guide Redwood City’s application to WHO. Some focus groups are also starting to be formed in Daly City related to this effort.
Stay tuned for further updates.
David J. Canepa is a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors serving Brisbane