FEDweek

What Makes a Community Good for Aging

Health care and supportive services for aging people are important in whether a community is an attractive place for them to live but is just one of a number of factors to consider, the Senate Select Committee on Aging was told at a hearing.

A witness cited a rating system for communities that takes into account eight factors: 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.

For example, he said, “recent research suggests that social isolation may be as threatening to health as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise. Social isolation predicts morbidity and mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease, re-hospitalization, and mental health issues such as depression. Social isolation is also a risk factor for elder abuse, as well as negative health outcomes, including death, following emergency events.”

Similarly, a walkable community is important because “there is considerable evidence that walking is associated with better physical and mental health,” and that “participation in public space improves health and wellbeing through opportunities for physical activity and social engagement.”