A Commentary on Blue Zones®: A Critical Review of Age-Friendly Environments in the 21st Century and Beyond

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 19;18(2):837. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020837.


This paper explores the intersection of the World Health Organization's (WHO) concepts of age-friendly communities and The Blue Zones® checklists and how the potential of integrating the two frameworks for the development of a contemporary framework can address the current gaps in the literature as well as consider the inclusion of technology and environmental press. The commentary presented here sets out initial thoughts and explorations that have the potential to impact societies on a global scale and provides recommendations for a roadmap to consider new ways to think about the impact of health and wellbeing of older adults and their families. Additionally, this paper highlights both the strengths and the weaknesses of the aforementioned checklists and frameworks by examining the literature including the WHO age-friendly framework, the smart age-friendly ecosystem (SAfE) framework and the Blue Zones® checklists. We argue that gaps exist in the current literature and take a critical approach as a way to be inclusive of technology and the environments in which older adults live. This commentary contributes to the fields of gerontology, gerontechnology, anthropology, and geography, because we are proposing a roadmap which sets out the need for future work which requires multi- and interdisciplinary research to be conducted for the respective checklists to evolve.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; age in place; ageing; community; gerontechnology; human centred design; older adults; rural planning; smart ecosystem; smart islands; technology.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Built Environment*
  • Environment Design*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Technology*