Making the case for being age-friendly

Why age-friendly?

Communities that embrace age-friendliness are rewarded with a better quality of life for residents of all ages.

This approach also reflects the fact that our communities are changing: all of us, every single one of us, is getting older. Our individual life expectancy is increasing and our population is ageing.

Communities, organisations and governments that take steps to become age-friendly and liveable for all will have a significant advantage over those that do not.

On this page:

Queensland factors

Age-friendliness is crucial to the future of Queensland because of our state’s unique characteristics:

Age-friendly practices mean better inclusion and participation for these groups and strategies that take their needs into account are vital.

Benefits for your community

Age-friendliness challenges old ways of thinking and prompts new responses.

An age-friendly community provides social, economic and community benefits to government, community organisations and businesses by supporting older people to be healthy, active, independent and involved in their communities.

The benefits to communities include the provision of products and services that are relevant, inclusive and collaborative by better understanding older people and their needs.

An age-friendly community helps to provide people with:

  • safe, accessible streets and buildings
  • better access to local businesses, facilities and services
  • greater opportunities to engage older people and people of all ages and abilities.

Age-friendliness not only benefits older people. For example, a community where an older person finds it easy to get on and off the bus also benefits pregnant women, young children, and people with disability.

Benefits for business

Being an age-friendly business makes good economic sense because it enables the increased support and spending power of older customers. The Case for Age-Friendly Communities (PDF), notes 5 key benefits for business:

  1. Older people are consumers. Older people may have more disposable income than when they were younger and their spending is a good driver for their local economy.
  2. Older people continue to work. Whether older people stay in traditional paid work, launch a new career or contribute as a volunteer or mentor, older people boost the local labour force.
  3. Older people are entrepreneurial. Australians aged 50 years and over are now the fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurship and are helping grow local economies.
  4. Older people often give support to their extended family. Many older people provide unpaid care for their grandchildren, often allowing their children to work which benefits local economies. They also care for other members of their family such as partners, or parents, reducing the burden on government.
  5. They help communities maximise resources. Age diversity in neighbourhoods means that people may go shopping, drive, park, or use public transportation, see movies or eat in restaurants at different times than office workers or young families, equalising customer and revenue flow for local businesses.

Looking at things from older people’s perspective strengthens the understanding of a growing market of an ageing population.

It also makes good business sense to consider hiring more mature-aged workers for the skills and knowledge they bring to the workplace. Not only will older customers be encouraged to return to your business if they see an older employee, but the business itself has much to gain. Some of the key benefits noted by businesses are staff retention, low absenteeism, committed work ethic and being punctual (PDF).

Many older employees appreciate the benefits of employment (PDF) including income, combating attitudes that older people are dependent and continued social and civic participation.

Improving services and products for older people can also provide benefits for other customers and clients such as people using prams, people who use wheelchairs, and people who are sight and hearing impaired. Check out our Top tips for business tool.

Benefits for government

An age-friendly community helps all levels of government to meet the needs of its residents. Benefits include:

  • increased access to services, whether it be healthcare, education, public infrastructure, transport, or housing
  • policies and programs that are inclusive of a variety of stakeholders including older people, younger people, children, people with disability
  • better monitoring and evaluation of initiatives
  • improved planning for an ageing population.

Running an age-friendly lens over planning processes is one way to ensure government and communities are responsive to the needs of older people, especially during natural disasters. Many state and local government agencies and communities around Australia are already taking up the challenge to deliver age-friendly strategies in their communities.

TIP
It is worth noting the importance of leadership to implementing age-friendly initiatives. Without key executives and leaders such as mayors and CEOs, initiatives risk being fragmented. Influencing and including leadership early on supports more cohesive implementation across the community.

Taking an age-friendly approach enhances planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting for government and business. It allows government to meet the needs of their older residents using an inclusive approach to service delivery.

 

Quote:

"Ageism is prejudice against your future self."

Ashton Applewhite, author, This Chair Rocks: A manifesto against ageism

Fact:

By mid-century, it’s estimated that 1 in 4 Australians will be aged 65 years and over and about 1 in 14 people will be aged 85 years and over, compared to 1 in 50 now. (Australia's welfare 2015)