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What is age-friendly?

'Age-friendly' is a concept that was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In 2006, WHO brought together 33 cities in 22 countries for a project to help determine the key elements of the urban environment that support active and healthy ageing. The result was a framework for places to assess their ‘age-friendliness.’

An age-friendly perspective is about adopting a particular ‘lens’ through which to view policies and services in a place – focusing attention on the issues of particular relevance to older people and all of us as we age.

Being an age-friendly community is not about achieving a standard. It's about taking the decision to make improvements at whatever pace you can.

To become officially recognised as age-friendly, the leadership in your town, city or county must make a written commitment to actively work towards becoming a great place to grow old in, for all of its residents. This is done with the support and engagement of older people and relevant stakeholders.

Once signed up, communities carry out the following World Health Organisation Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC) programme cycle:

Age-friendly cycle showing the process
Below are five key UK and international resources to support you to make your community age-friendly. Click on the titles below to access:

Global age-friendly Cities Guide
A WHO framework for assessing the 'age-friendliness' of a city. A core aspect of this approach was to include older people as active participants in the process.

Age-friendly world
An overview of the age-friendly framework co-produced by Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities members. It also includes a searchable database of age-friendly practice from around the world.

Research & evaluation framework for age-friendly cities
A practical resource for cities looking to develop age-inclusive programmes and initiatives, with key facts, evidence reviews and summaries for each of the WHO age-friendly domains.

Creating age-friendly environments in Europe
A tool for local policy-makers and planners to create more age-friendly environments – taking in the physical environment of neighbourhoods, transport and housing; increasing respect, social inclusion and community participation, and investment in public services. 

Measuring the age-friendliness of cities: a guide to using indicators
A technical guide to selecting and using core indicators for establishing baselines, setting goals/targets, monitoring and evaluating age-friendly initiatives.

What does age-friendly mean to you?
What does age-friendly mean to you?

There are five core principles of age-friendly. These are: participation of older people, equity, multi-agency collaboration, taking a life-course approach and multi-level governance (Source: Creating age friendly environments in Europe).  

These tools, resources and examples will help to bring the core principles of age-friendly to life:

Inequalities in later life
A report by the Centre for Ageing Better that sets out the key insights from a scoping review and illustrates the stark contrasts in people’s experiences of of health, financial security and social connections.


Introduction to co-producing age-friendly communities with older people in Wales
This report makes the case for why it's essential to make older people equal partners at every stage of developing age-friendly environments.

Engaging with older people evidence review
Part of a series produced by Age UK to provide evidence for underpinning decision-making for those involved in commissioning, service development, fundraising and influencing.

Older People's Council's Guide
A guide by Age Friendly Ireland to Older People's Groups and overview of relevant practices that have emerged through their Age Friendly Cities & Counties programme.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people in later life
Stonewall commissioned YouGov to survey 1,050 heterosexual and 1,036 lesbian, gay and bisexual people over the age of 55 across Britain. It asked about their experiences and expectations of getting older and examined their personal support structures, family connections and living arrangements.

Future ageing of the ethnic minority population of England and Wales
This study by the Centre for Policy on Ageing, was commissioned by the Runnymede Trust. It looks at the future size and structure of the ethnic minority population of England and Wales with particular emphasis on older people aged 50 and over.

A life-course approach to healthy ageing
This brochure accompanies the book 'A Life Course Approach to Healthy Ageing' (by HALCyon) which describes how life course studies are changing the way we think about ageing and show that ageing occurs throughout life, that it’s malleable and influenced by variety of factors. 

Further resources  

Creating age-friendly cities

A tool for local policy-makers and planners to create more age-friendly environments.

World report on ageing and health This 2015 report outlines a framework for action to foster Healthy Ageing built around the new concept of functional ability. 
Ageing of the ethnic minority population  This briefing by the Centre for Policy on Ageing examines the ageing of the ethnic minority populations of England and Wales as revealed by the 2011 census. The ageing characteristics of individual ethnic groups are compared through key statistics and the ‘population pyramids’ for each group.
The Golden Generation? Wellbeing and inequality in later life A report by Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) which examines wellbeing and inequalities in later life and presents findings and policy recommendations from its 5-year 'Frailty, Resilience and Inequality in Later Life' research programme.