For those of us looking ahead to our 70s and 80s, it’s hard not to worry about the practical challenges ahead. Where do I want to live? Can I afford it? Will my city still accommodate my needs a decade from now?
The older baby boomers get, the clearer it becomes: our cities are not as age friendly as they could be. And this needs to change urgently.
For some of us, it’s a matter of comfort and mobility. Are there enough benches and seats to rest? Will our cities still be easy to navigate when we’re 20 years older?
For others, it’s about a sense of community and belonging. Will older residents still be valued community members? Will we have spaces to socialise?
But for a worrying number, it’s as fundamental as having a place to live. More and more over-60s Australians can only afford to rent – and not all of us have the retirement savings to continue.
However, there is still hope for change.
At the recent seminar Shaping the Future, Planning for Homes in the Ageing World, an international panel of experts gathered in Sydney to discuss the best way around these problems – and Starts at 60 was there to live stream some of the great ideas that came out of it.
Our favourite moment came from Brian Osterio, formerly of Communities NSW, who asked older Australians first-hand what they thought needed to change, then summed up their hopes and dreams in the following poem:
If you tweak affordability
Or make homes that have agility
If you help me find ways to contribute
There are benefits galore to distribute
If I get out and about
I’ll socialise with the young, no doubt
Give me green space nearby
I’ll go there, I’m not shy
Spend some more and send some services to my home
Don’t be frightened of my irritable bowel syndrome
If you have to plan in silos
Measure results locally
Everyone will know what’s going well, totally