Headlines: May 1st, 2008

Local authorities have been set 10 requirements that campaigners believe they need to meet to make communities better for older people. The list has been produced by Help the Aged, which has published a survey showing that a quarter of older people believe the places where they live have changed for the worse in the last 10 years.

The findings reveal that the equivalent of almost three million pensioners are prevented from going out because of a lack of facilities in their local area. Thirty per cent of respondents said they felt unsafe walking around their neighbourhoods at night,and 40 per cent did not have a bank, friends and family, or health and social services within walking distance of their homes.

Help the Aged’s ‘Towards Common Ground’ campaign calls on the Government and councils to create “lifetime neighbourhoods” catering for the needs of people of all ages. Paul Cann, the charity’s director of policy, said there were 10 minimum requirements which had to be met to ensure older people could live healthy, active lives and be part of their communities.

“Regardless of age, people want to live in an area where they can get everything they need, where they feel safe and where they can do things they enjoy,” he added.

Mr. Cann said simple things such as public toilets, park benches and transport links could make a big difference in helping older people feel confident enough to leave their homes.The 10 requirements are that new and existing accommodation should be adapted to suit people of all ages; transport options that meet the needs of all older people; keeping pavements in good repair; provision of public toilets; public seating; good street lighting and clean streets with a police presence; access to shops and services; places to socialise; information and advice and ensuring older people’s voices are heard on issues from social care to volunteering opportunities

“If local authorities ensure these and the other demands are met, communities will be more age-friendly both now and in the future,” Mr. Cann said.