Aging-Friendly Cities

There have been reports that the migration of older adults to Florida has slowed, in fact, it may be starting to reverse itself.  As an older adult resident of the state since 2003, I have an idea why this could be happening: we have to drive a car just about everywhere.  For most families, two cars are an absolute necessity.  Even many couples of a certain age whose full time working days are behind them, feel they must have two cars.   So when driving becomes difficult, or one decides for any number of reasons to quit driving, you become dependent on limited bus service or the kindness of friends to get around.  Of course, if you are fit and live within a mile or so of basics like grocery, bank, drug store, community pool, friends, you can walk.  And if you can and do, you will actually improve your level of fitness as well as maintain your social and community connections.  But the truth is, with few exceptions — Del Ray Beach and Lake Worth come to mind — your place of residence will be far from downtown or anything resembling one.

Living here makes me nostalgic for New York City and Hoboken, NJ,  two urban areas we’ve lived in where owning a car was not only unnecessary, but given the difficulty of finding parking and the high cost of it, could be viewed as a  liability.  Although people complain about it, for my money New York has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, both above and below ground.  Hoboken is a mile square, so nothing is very far away.   A walk to corner to get the newspaper or a quart of milk often meant you’d run into a friend or neighbor and have a chat.  You might wind up having coffee together, or getting invited to something interesting.  You had to work at being isolated.

It comes as no surprise that visionary city planning with an eye on the aging population focuses on redesigning areas that address what older adults want most: staying put, maintaining independence and walking communities.  Read this great article by Glenn Ruffenach in the Wall Street Journal for some of the newest ideas on this important development, and where the new aging friendly communities are.  If you don’t wish to move, perhaps you can explore the possibility of making changes to your own.

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