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Age Friendly Communities

In late 2006, PSU’s Institute on Aging (IOA) was approached by the World Health Organization (WHO) to participate in its global Age-Friendly Cities project. The project aimed at understanding the features of and barriers to age friendliness in the 33 cities in 22 countries that participated. Portland was the only U.S. city involved in the initial data collection effort for the first phase of this global project.

"Age-friendly cities and communities focus broadly on both the built and the social environment and include eight domains: housing, transportation, outdoor spaces and buildings, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services."

In 2010, the WHO initiated its Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities, and Portland was accepted as one of just two U.S. cities (the other was New York) among the first group of six members. Portland was granted membership due to its participation in the original age-friendly cities project and due to the commitment of the Mayor, City Council, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to collaborate, together with the IOA, to create an action plan for aging in the city. The action plan effort includes developing indicators to be used to monitor success over time (to be connected with the Greater Portland Pulse Project), and implementing changes aimed at creating a Portland for people of all ages and abilities. Draft versions of the action plan and indicators are intended to be completed by the end of 2012.

Guiding the age-friendly cities work is the WHO’s active aging framework (report: Active Ageing: A Policy Framework); age-friendly cities and communities focus broadly on both the built and the social environment and include eight domains: housing, transportation, outdoor spaces and buildings, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.

For more information about age-friendly cities and the work of the IOA, several publications are available:  

2006 - Metro funded PSU’s College of Urban and Public Affairs to write a report that was intended to inform forecasting and modeling titled:  Age-Related Shifts in Housing and Transportation Demand.  

2006-2007 - The World Health Organization (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities project led to the publication of their initial findings: Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide and their Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities.

2006-2007 - PSU’s Institute on Aging (IOA) collaborated with the WHO on their initial global Age-Friendly Cities project and published a final report of findings to the WHO and a summary of findings.

2009 – A PSU capstone course, Creating Livable Communities for an Aging Society, focused on several service-learning projects within the Overlook and Hollywood neighborhoods.

2010 – The IOA, in conjunction with Portland’s City Council and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability joined WHO’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities as one of the initial nine members.

 2012: The IOA published an article in Metroscape titled Planning for Our Aging Society focusing on the need to prepare for an aging region and detailing the efforts that are underway among local municipalities and universities.

Additional article: Neal, M.B., & DeLaTorre, A. (2009). The WHO Age-Friendly Cities Project. Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging, 33(2), 74-75.