Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia has the greatest number of older adults age 60 and older. The city’s 64-69 population alone is expected to increase by 24 percent over the next decade. Age-Friendly Philadelphia is a comprehensive planning agenda initiated by the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) to ensure older adults have the ability to remain healthy, active, and engaged in their communities as they age. The agenda is intended to act as a resource for planners, local officials, and community leaders in the Philadelphia area and beyond seeking guidance in creating age-friendly communities. This report discusses the progress Philadelphia has made toward becoming an age-friendly city and the future steps it will take to continue improving the physical and social environment of its communities.
Age-Friendly Philadelphia focuses on the essential elements of an age-friendly city such as accessible housing, public transportation options, safe and welcoming public spaces, and readily available fresh foods. Each chapter of the agenda discusses a key component of an age-friendly city, as well as new initiatives and research on the topic. The report emphasizes that improving the livability of Philadelphia facilitates independence and neighborhood cohesion and, therefore, benefits residents of all ages.
Key age-friendly elements discussed in the agenda include:
- Age-friendly parks: City parks serve as a resource for social interaction, physical recreation, and relaxation for senior residents. An Age-Friendly Parks Checklists provided in the report to outline the essential features of an age-friendly park.
- Public Transportation: PCA collaborated with the Next Great City Coalition to promote the need for age-friendly bus stops that provide shelter, lighting, and seating intended to encourage the use of public transit among senior residents.
- Flexible Housing: Philadelphia modernized its zoning code for the first time in 40 years and has considered specific senior housing options in its planning efforts, such as adult day care facilities and Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities.
- Walkability: As of 2011, PCA’s Research Program is conducting a 24-month study called Walkability’s Impact on Senior Health (WISH) to determine the overall health benefits that a community’s walkability has on its older residents.
- Social Capital: The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (TEC-CDC) in West Philadelphia has implemented programs to organize and empower residents to help others in their communities by exchanging needed services.
- Fresh Food Access: In a new effort to promote healthy eating behaviors among senior residents, PCA is encouraging community vegetable gardens at many senior centers.
How to Use
Planners and local officials can use the Age-Friendly Philadelphia progress report as a resource to enhance the livability of their own communities. The report offers useful information on the basic elements and key features of an age-friendly city. Checklists, new programs, and initiatives intended to promote age-friendly communities are provided throughout the report that can be utilized by planners, local officials, and community leaders seeking to promote “age-friendliness” within their community.