In the Nordic region, life expectancy is increasing, and the elderly population is growing. It is of course a positive development that more people are living for longer, but it also entails major challenges, particularly in the areas of housing, transport, urban planning, healthcare and social services. The answer is to create age-friendly communities, where we can still experience quality of life in old age.
Preventive work is needed to face what has been referred to as “the demographic challenge”. We need to create communities in which everyone is included, involved, can live an active life and is able to postpone the need of old age care for as long as possible. This is important both for the individual and for the society.
The Nordic Welfare Centre has taken the initiative to start a project about quality of life for elderly women and men in the Nordic region. The project focuses on factors that often tend to arise in discussions about quality of life and good health – opportunities for physical exercises, good eating habits, social interaction, meaningfulness. These factors are just as important for a recently retired person as for a very old person.
Many municipalities in the Nordic region are working ambitiously to create a better environment to age in. In this publication, we have investigated in greater depth the Nordic cities that have chosen to connect to the WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities. These are Oslo, Trondheim, Uppsala, Gothenburg, Tampere and Reykjavik. No doubt, much of the work being done there is also under way elsewhere in the Nordic region. The reason for choosing these cities is that they have committed to in-depth, structured work with these issues based on the eight thematic areas highlighted by WHO. We have also included Aarhus, which is not part of the WHO network but which is working extensively, in collaboration with various stakeholders, to create social interaction and counteract lonelines sin all age groups.
This publication is based on information from meetings and study visits to cities, as well as written material. It is primarily intended for decision-makers on a local level and organisations of pensioners. We hope that this publication will serve as an inspiration in municipalities’work to become a better environment to age in.