According to USA Today and the AP, the distribution of New Yorkers by age is shifting upwards. See Aging boomers strain cities built for the young, which we caught by the WNYC News Blog, brought to us by WNYC’s news staff. Since no single human beng, not even WNYC’s Robert Hennelly, can compress information so that all the important material they would like to report each day, the blog serves as an outlet for things which get forced by the inherent scarcity of airtime – like The New York Times, the WNYC News Blog isn’t secondary, isn’t a lesser matter – but the combination of the on-air and on-line (print/paper costs and on-line capacity in the case of The Times). From USA Today’s Aging boomers strain cities built for the young:
NEW YORK – America’s cities are beginning to grapple with a fact of life: People are getting old, fast, and they’re doing it in communities designed for the sprightly.
To envision how this silver tsunami will challenge a youth-oriented society, just consider that seniors soon will outnumber schoolchildren in hip, fast-paced New York City.
It will take some creative steps to make New York and other cities age-friendly enough to help the coming crush of older adults stay active and independent in their own homes.
“It’s about changing the way we think about the way we’re growing old in our community,” said New York Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. “The phrase ‘end of life’ does not apply anymore.”
With initiatives such as using otherwise idle school buses to take seniors grocery shopping, the World Health Organization recognizes New York as a leader in this movement.
Atlanta is creating what it calls “lifelong communities.” Philadelphia is testing whether living in a truly walkable community really makes older adults healthier. In Portland, Ore., there’s a push to fit senior concerns such as accessible housing into the city’s new planning and zoning policies.
Such work is getting a late start considering how long demographers have warned that the population is about to get a lot grayer.
“It’s shocking how far behind we are, especially when you think about this fact — that if you make something age-friendly, that means it is going to be friendly for people of all ages, not just older adults,” said Margaret Neal of Portland State University’s Institute on Aging.
While this fledgling movement is being driven by nonprofit and government programs, New York aims to get private businesses to ante up, too.
Last year, East Harlem became the city’s first “aging improvement district.” Sixty stores, identified with window signs, agreed to put out folding chairs to let older customers rest as they do their errands. The stores also try to keep aisles free of tripping hazards and use larger type so signs are easier to read. A community pool set aside senior-only hours so older swimmers could get in their laps without faster kids and teens in the way.
On one long block, accountant Henry Calderon welcomes older passers-by to rest in his air-conditioned lobby even if they’re not customers. They might be, one day.