While the nation’s senior citizen population has increased at a rapid pace over the past ten years, many elder issues have come to the forefront, including increased medical needs, social security discussion and nursing home debate. A recent report, led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), considered the growing elderly population in urban development across the country. The organization reported a 24 percent increase in senior living population in cities across the U.S. from 2001 to 2011. The fastest growing demographic is seniors age 80 and up. These statistics lead to the question: How can urban areas adjust their infrastructures to these changing needs of our citizens as they age?
Increasing Accessible and Affordable Housing
One key element in creating senior-friendly cities is to increase accessible and affordable housing. Many people choose to move into smaller homes as they age. After retirement, some must adjust their budget as income decreases and medical expenses increase. Stairs may become challenging, as can property maintenance. City living has the potential to provide one-level apartments with few or no stairs, little upkeep, and easy access to medical services. In certain areas, zoning laws are being re-evaluated to allow families more flexible options for adding additional living quarters. Urban planners are exploring various forms of housing for the elderly.
Transportation and Mobility
As driving becomes more hazardous and difficult with age, public transportation may be vital to an elderly person’s well-being. Going to medical appointments and maintaining a healthy social life are crucial for seniors. Many cities already offer free or reduced price car and taxi services specialized for handicapped citizens. As more elder-based social services are offered, specialized senior bus transportation is explored as well. Discounted metro-cards are offered in many cities already. Organizations are beginning to look to other countries for ideas. For example, Lisbon, Portugal has instilled a public awareness campaign for elderly safety on city sidewalks. To accommodate their needs, walkways must be no less than five feet wide.
Cost Effective Social Services
During a time when the number of seniors is increasing rapidly, many city budgets are unfortunately being cut. The OECD has to deal with this issue in their effort to find affordable resources for growing needs. Examples of free or low cost social services include Nutrition Centers, Recreation Centers, and Meals on Wheels. The OECD’s goal is to keep up with the changing demographic while continuing the search for innovative and effective ways to engage the elderly with each other and the community.
Long Island Premier Elder Law Attorney
If you are a senior thinking about relocating, or you have an elderly loved one living on their own, you may have legal questions about Medicaid, special needs or elder law. Serving New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Andrew M. Lamkin and his team will work with you to ensure your assets are protected and that your benefits will be there when you need them. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew M. Lamkin today.