The desire to live safely and comfortably in our own homes and communities as we grow older is shared around the world, but making it happen is not always easy. To identify successful age-friendly housing innovations and encourage their dissemination, Grantmakers In Aging (GIA) and the WHO Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC) launched Innovation@Home — a competition and call for international age-friendly housing practices.
The Innovation@Home winners were announced at the 2018 International Technical Meeting on Ageing at Home, in Québec City, Canada, where representatives from all three groups had the opportunity to make presentations about their programs.
“Finding and expanding age-friendly housing options is important because very few variables have as much power to support—or derail—healthy, productive aging and related quality of life,” says John Feather, PhD, CEO of Grantmakers In Aging, a Washington, DC-based membership association for funders and foundations dedicated to improving the experience of aging. “As the world’s population continues to get older, this need should be on everyone’s agenda, whether we are elected officials, health care leaders, social services or aging services providers, philanthropists, real estate developers, technologists, families, or individuals.”
Age-friendly housing initiatives can take many forms: expanding the amount and variety of housing options; making housing more affordable; removing barriers to innovation, in areas such as zoning, building codes, and planning; helping with home modifications; using assistive technology to improve safety and promote inclusion; involving multiple generations in cohousing; co-locating services, such as health care; and facilitating access to transportation, shopping, and health services, just to name a few.
“The physical and social environments in our cities and communities are powerful influences on the experience of aging and the opportunities that aging affords, and housing plays an important role,” says Alana Officer, who leads the WHO’s Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. “In the face of shrinking budgets, cities and communities are looking for innovative ways to respond to needs while increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving the quality of life for their residents.”