For Healthy Ageing In European Cities

Eddy Adams

By Eddy Adams, on March 28th, 2014

> Read Eddy Adams's articles

In the cult movie, Logan’s Run, citizens are terminated at the age of 30. The plot focuses on the efforts of the eponymous hero as he makes his attempt to escape the city and prolong his life into middle age. Nowadays, applying the Logan’s Run rule would empty many of Europe’s cities. Across Europe, the tendency is towards longer lifespans and a dramatic increase in the proportions of older people. Eurostat estimates that between 2011 and 2060 the proportion of over 65s in the EU will increase from 18% to 30%. Forecasts indicate that in the same period the proportion of the population over 80 years old in the EU will almost triple.

Ageing Creates Policy Challenges But Should Be Celebrated

Too often, ageing populations are presented as a problem. Economists refer to the shifting ratio of working to non-working age residents, and raise questions about who will pay for the pensions of baby boomers and their offspring. Medics alert us to the exponential growth of Alzheimer’s rates whilst care professionals highlight the crisis in care, as we struggle to attract workers into this growing profession.

But let’s not lose sight of the positives. A big driver in the demographic changes comes from the vast improvements in health and overall standards of living that EU citizens have experienced in the past thirty years. Although it creates policy challenges, the fact that we are living longer, healthier lives is something to celebrate. We should hope that solutions we find now to these policy challenges will be useful for future generations across the globe as living standards rise in other parts of the world.

Learning A Healthy Ageing Strategy From Udine

For almost a decade, this question of healthy ageing has been a policy priority in the Italian city of Udine. Situated in the north east of the country, it has a population of 100,000 people, one quarter of whom (25.5%) are aged 65 or older. Working under the auspices of the WHO, Udine has pioneered a healthy ageing strategy which now forms the focus of one of our six transfer pilots. In the coming year, Udine will collaborate with Edinburgh, Grand Poitiers, Brighton/Hove and Klypeda to transfer their experience to these cities as one of six transfer pilots that kicked off in early 2014 (Healthy Ageing Project).

The components of Udine’s work have included:

– The production of a Healthy Ageing Profile, using 22 indicators to provide a snapshot of the older population – and a framework for inter-service collaboration

– Using GIS to map the location of the city’s older population – and to influence planning decisions relating to services such as bus routes and local health care services

– Engaging with older people through the Vancouver Protocol process to gauge their views and inform investment decisions

– Establishing a series of intergenerational and activity based projects to promote well being amongst older people

Over the next 14 months, Udine will work with its partner cities to transfer aspects of their successful activity. As the four partners each have their own distinct environments, this process will be unique in each city. URBACT is especially interested in learning about the conditions and processes for effective transfer, so will be tracking this (and the other pilots) closely. Looking ahead, the aim is to embed the transfer network model in the URBACT III Programme 2014-2020.

If you want to find out more, check out  the Healthy Ageing mini-site.



By Eddy Adams, URBACT Thematic Pole Manager

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