Is your community senior-friendly? Do you know what that means & how to achieve it?
Several years ago I was visiting a new retirement home. On taking a private tour with the marketing person, we stopped in a lounge with a large window over looking a traffic light. I watched for a few minutes to see how long the traffic lights stayed on green and red. As I watched cars whip by and pedestrians run across the road to catch the green light, it occurred to me that anyone with a physical impairment or with an inability to 'run' would not make the light. I asked the person touring me if she had notified the city of this and in fact, she had not even noticed the issue. That factor aside, the city was well aware that a seniors home was going up close to a very busy intersection. One would wonder why the lights were not adjusted the moment that home opened to ensure that no one got injured crossing the street. I suppose the argument could be made that the responsibility rested with the home but I wonder if we don't have a collective responsibility to keep our vulnerable residents safe?
We all know our population is ageing. And many cities were built at a time when 'senior safety' was not a priority and even if it was way back when, many areas have infrastructures that are older and need updating shortly. So what can we do to look after our current and future seniors? In the first place, things like traffic lights need to be looked at - as do increasing the number of cross walks in areas where there is a large space between lights - especially in an area where there are many seniors that frequent. Other important changes to look at include: making public transportation more accessible and even expanding it in certain areas, creating more spaces to sit and to walk safely, fixing side walk issues, increasing disabled parking spots, increasing areas in and outside that are wheelchair/walker accessible and allow for easy movement from road to side walk if you do use a wheelchair.
Beyond this though, we also need to look at how we care for our seniors - moving forward innovation will be the key... but more on this in a future blog.........