Towards global age-friendly cities: determining urban features that promote active aging

J Urban Health. 2010 Sep;87(5):733-9. doi: 10.1007/s11524-010-9466-0.


At the same time as cities are growing, their share of older residents is increasing. To engage and assist cities to become more "age-friendly," the World Health Organization (WHO) prepared the Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide and a companion "Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities". In collaboration with partners in 35 cities from developed and developing countries, WHO determined the features of age-friendly cities in eight domains of urban life: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; social participation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication and information; and community support and health services. In 33 cities, partners conducted 158 focus groups with persons aged 60 years and older from lower- and middle-income areas of a locally defined geographic area (n = 1,485). Additional focus groups were held in most sites with caregivers of older persons (n = 250 caregivers) and with service providers from the public, voluntary, and commercial sectors (n = 515). No systematic differences in focus group themes were noted between cities in developed and developing countries, although the positive, age-friendly features were more numerous in cities in developed countries. Physical accessibility, service proximity, security, affordability, and inclusiveness were important characteristics everywhere. Based on the recurring issues, a set of core features of an age-friendly city was identified. The Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide and companion "Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities" released by WHO serve as reference for other communities to assess their age readiness and plan change.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cities
  • City Planning* / methods
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Social Environment
  • Social Planning*
  • Urban Population
  • World Health Organization