Age-Friendly Communities

Older adults do better when they are around all age groups, but they also have specific needs to feel safe and comfortable in parks and other open spaces
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BY DR. TASADUQ MIR

We all have heard that “prevention is better than cure”. We also know that daily exercise improves our lives in general and that is true for older adults as well. If one was to look and search for how many places of recreation we have in Kashmir for our elderly population, the results will be shocking.

The population of older adults is growing all over the globe and Kashmir is no exception. What has not changed is the infrastructure to meet the needs of this ageing population.

Older adults are at higher risk of falls and fractures and our parks and recreation centres need to be elderly-friendly – a concept called “age-friendly communities”.

The general trend is that parks are too often created for children or able-bodied adults and we do not take into consideration that our older adults also have some of the same needs to be physically and mentally fit. Older adults do better when they are around all age groups, but they also have specific needs to feel safe and comfortable in parks and other open spaces.

Accessibility is one of the major issues.  Contrary to the myth that older adults with knee problems should not walk much, research shows that walking as an exercise is beneficial for patients with mild Knee Osteoarthritis (bone and joint damage of the knee).

According to World Health Organization (WHO) there is a need to create age-friendly environments in our communities. The WHO model also puts a lot of emphasis on how we need to work together and address discrimination towards people based on age, also known as ageism.

By providing safe and age-friendly spaces for our older adults we can also tackle some of the chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

There is an increased need for awareness on how older adults can stay active, be physically and mentally healthy and also have an active role in society to live a purposeful and productive life. In order to allow and facilitate our older adults to do regular exercise parks are an integral part of our outdoor spaces but need to be safe and easily accessible.

Many times our older adults especially women do not find a safe and age-friendly space to go to. It is high time that we as a society pay attention to this significantly important issue and start investing in age-friendly parks and centres of recreation if we want our older adults to live purpose-driven, healthy and productive life. 

Dr Mir MD, FAAFP is based in Texas, USA

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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