Planning For Age-Friendly Cities: Towards a New Model
Colangeli, John A.
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This dissertation examines the potential for professional/community planning to respond pro-actively and strategically to the impending demographic changes which will be brought about by the aging of the baby boom generation. This multi-phased investigation was designed to explore whether professional planning could uncover models and concepts which can be used to make cities and communities more age-friendly. Several conclusions can be drawn from the study. It was found that planners are not ready for demographic change nor are they prepared for helping create age-friendly cities. This is due to several reasons, including a lack of resources forcing them to concentrate on short-term, immediate issues; lack of power and credibility; and a perception that the elderly are a lower priority in society. For planners to become proactive and strategic in planning for age-friendly cities, they will need to re-examine their tendency to focus mainly on land use planning; focus on the long-term agenda; establish credibility with politicians; develop visionary skills; and become educators and facilitators, engaging key stakeholders and community groups. The data indicated that planners have a limited knowledge of gerontology. However, a high level of congruence was found between the newer planning models and key research dimensions in gerontology. If these two fields were to work closer together, each would become better equipped to produce knowledge which will help society deal with aging demographics. Evidence also showed congruence between the newer planning models, building age-friendly cities and the environmental agenda. Common factors such as urban intensification (particularly in the core), building more compact urban form and increasing multi-modal transportation options (including pedestrianism) help reduce sprawl, congestion and pollution and concomitantly help create an environment which is healthier and friendly to all ages, including seniors. Findings from this research are used to develop a hybrid “Wise Growth” planning model to encourage the development of age-friendly cities.