What makes a town ‘age friendly’ and to what extent does Telford meet the mark? Over 60 people braved the heavy rain to attend our event at The Wakes, on Monday 29th January. Members took part in a lively discussion identifying aspects of life in Telford which present challenges to older people.
Lynne Carney started off by explaining that the World Health Organisation introduced the idea of cities and communities world-wide making a commitment to adapt their structures and services to meet the needs of their ageing populations and make their community a better place to grow old.
In brief, its aims are to enable people to stay in places of their choosing as they age, play an active role in their communities for as long as possible and continue behaviours that support a good later life. 541 cities and communities in 37 countries, covering over 179 million people worldwide have already embraced the initiative, including 21 communities in the UK.
There are eight aspects involved:
Outdoor spaces & buildings, transportation, housing, respect & social inclusion, social participation, civic participation and employment, communication and information and community and health services.
Heather Osborne, Chief Exec, Age UK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin told members that Age UK held an ‘Age Friendly’ summit meeting in November 2017 and have been looking into ways of introducing the initiative in Shropshire. Heather explained that it requires partnership working and the support of the local councils who are all facing funding cuts. ‘Age Friendly’ can range from incorporating the needs of the ageing population in local housing and community development, to more local projects, which help people be supported and socially connected which is vital in maintaining health and well being.
Phil Gillam from the Alzheimer’s Society gave an update of the initiatives happening in Newport to help it become the first ‘dementia friendly’ community in Shropshire. This has included getting local businesses signed up to being more welcoming and helpful to dementia sufferers, forming an action alliance to carry this initiative on and supporting individuals to access activities in the area.