According to the French statistics agency INSEE, the number of over-85s will reach 5 million by 2060, compared to 1.4 million today. This situation is far from exceptional, with 1 in 5 Europeans already older than 65. What kind of living arrangements and services does this ageing population require? How can they be supported so that they can ‘age in place’?
For AA’s new issue, “Ageing well in place”, journalist Christelle Granja draws up an inventory of the architectural and urban solutions proposed in Europe.
At the impetus of the World Health Organization (WHO), the Francophone Network of Age-Friendly Cities (RFVAA) has been working since its founding in 2012 to promote initiatives that foster the well-being of older people. Today, it brings together more than 140 communities that promote active ageing and combat ageism (discrimination on the basis of age) through interventions in diverse fields, including housing, culture, transport, IT and communication. For example, the town of Rezé in France’s Loire-Atlantique region has set up the ‘Votre second souffle’ service to support exhausted carers. It offers them to be replaced by a professional, for a couple of hours or a few days. A welcome break to go to an appointment or simply focus on something else. In Rennes, safety audits have been carried out with older people to develop more appropriate urban infrastructure. The town of Belfort aims to promote older people’s mobility by installing benches with the help of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Another project with the same inclusive ambition is an older person’s handbook developed by the town of Bron (near Lyon), which features universally accessible content and design.
According to a September 2019 report by the organisation Petits Frères des pauvres (in translation, Solitude and isolation among older people in France: the influence of place), 4.6 million French over-60s suffer from loneliness, and 3.2 million are at risk of “relational isolation“. Mobility, including the accessibility of transport and buildings, is a key tool in the fight against these conditions. However, there is some distance between the theoretical consensus and practical responses on the ground.
Find the full article in L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui‘s 434th issue — Ageing well in place —, available in bookshops and on our online store.