People are living longer. As a whole, this means that communities and populations are also rapidly aging across the world, especially in California and Los Angeles.
- According to the World Health Organization, by 2020, the number of people aged 60 years and older will outnumber children younger than 5 years.
- California’s older adult population will nearly double by 2030.*
- Los Angeles County’s older adult population is already larger than the older adult population of 41 states. (Purposeful Aging Los Angeles Report, 2018)
Our cities, government, and society are not currently equipped or prepared to successfully support the new opportunities that come with living longer. Again, as the World Health Organization points out, it will be increasingly important to invest into an age-friendly environment and larger and better trained workforce to focus on the increasing demands of primary, community, and long-term healthcare.
For this reason, cities and communities across the world are beginning to realize the importance of creating services and supports for older people.
Westside Pacific Villages, part of a movement of villages across the U.S., provides solutions to our changing society by prioritizing aging as a central focus for the community at large–ultimately to improve the quality of longer lives with continual growth, development, purpose, engagement, and enrichment.
*Ortman, J. M., Velkoff, V. A., & Hogan, H. (2014). An aging nation: the older population in the United States (pp. 25-1140). United States Census Bureau, Economics and Statistics Administration, US Department of Commerce.
*State of California, Department of Finance, State and County Population Projections by Race/Ethnicity, Sex, and Age 2010-2060, Sacramento, California, December 2014.
America is in the midst of a loneliness epidemic; the American Psychological Association explains that loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, an even greater public health hazard than obesity. According to a new national survey by AARP Foundation, one in three adults older than 45 are lonely. Most importantly, older adults may be particularly at risk for social isolation and loneliness; the U.S. Health Resources & Service Administration states that 43% of older adults feel lonely on a regular basis. Among older adults who feel lonely, there is also a 45% risk of increased mortality.
The U.S, and specifically Los Angeles, are deeply influenced by car and automobile culture which dictates the way we get around the city to events, friends, or appointments. However, driving safely becomes more challenging as we grow older because of late life transitions that may increase risk for chronic conditions, diseases, and disability. The loss of the ability to drive significantly impacts our sense of freedom, autonomy, and independence in our lives; and can potentially exacerbate mental and physical health conditions.
“ In fact, over half of all nondrivers stay at home on any given day because they don’t have transportation. And 60 percent of seniors report that there is no public transportation within a 10-minute walk from their home. Many live in areas without sidewalks, especially those who live in suburbs and rural areas. They are more likely to be injured by a vehicle when walking than younger people are. This is a problem that goes well beyond just not being able to get around. By sitting at home, often alone, we risk becoming isolated and sedentary, which can have devastating effects on our physical and emotional health. I’m not just talking about inconvenience — that’s bad enough. I’m talking about the loss of belonging and the feeling of being marginalized, both leading to physical and mental deterioration.”
-Joan Jenkins, CEO, AARP
An excerpt from Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Ever Age.
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