What’s The Biggest Challenge Facing Cities in The Coming Decade?

For many of us, they idea of living in a city is not one that we fully subscribe to or find exciting. City life is not for everyone, yet estimates believe that we’ll have as many as 3 in 5 people living in cities by the time the 2030s come around. 

That sounds huge, and it’s going to have a significant and telling impact on the quality of life for many people – especially older citizens. How, then, are these platforms going to come together to try and improve the quality of life for everyone?

How can these cites stand up to try and cope with the upsurge in older people living in such crammed cities. However, a recent report titled “Age-Forward Cities for 2030” is not exactly complementary about the solutions which are being put in place at the moment.

The report, put together by Caroline Servat and Nora Super, is pretty damning. It does, though, note that some larger (and smaller) cities in the United States seem more forward thinking and thus prepared to handle the challenges to come. 

As you might imagine, cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Chicago are all ready to handle the challenges which are to come from more and more people being involved in city life.

A lack of attention

The main problem, it is believed, comes from a lack of attention being paid to how people are ageing. It’s a major issue, and it shows that many parts of the USA – and the wider world – simply are not making the progress expected. 

Indeed, despite the fact that older adults tend to be a major voting constituency, it’s become apparent that many parts of government simply don’t take the aged into mind when thinking about economic growth.

That’s a big mistake and, as Super noted, a missed opportunity. The reasons why so many cities appear reluctant to change and try to become more friendly towards its citizens is confusing, and most of the time it comes down to one thing: time. 

The hands of time tick slowly, and a population ages slowly. That’s why most cities are doing nothing about the crisis which is building in the background – they believe that they plenty of time to solve the situation.

It’s a slow-moving issue, which provides a false sense of confidence that there is ample time to tackle the issues which are about to unfold. The challenge, then, is to try and force governments at all levels to start progressively pushing ageing to the top of policy agenda for the next decade.

It’s one of the many slowly ticking time bombs that has become a major part of life in America and across the world. And if nothing is done about it, the problem is going to stick around and become a serious issue.

The problems have already begun

The first thing to note is that at the moment only 2 in 10 US residents over the age of 65 are not living in a metropolitan area. This is going to keep on increasing, and the fact that so little is done to try and help an elder population is damning. 

It’s a major issue, and the fact that we’re about to career headlong into a problem with the aged is going to become a talking point for the next decade.

Put simply, we need to find better ways to give those in their golden years the correct opportunities. The reality of the situation is that many cities don’t see their elder population as a potentially useful solution; they see it as some kind of drain on the economy.

That’s why solutions like the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging is working so hard to ensure that 2030 is the deadline for making progressive changes.

There is no longer enough time to simply sit back and let the problem solve itself. The aim is that to have housing by 2030 that is safe and affordable for the elder populace of these cities has now become a primary objective for so many parts of the industry.

Plenty of work is needed

Another major aim, according to the Milken Institute Center, is to try and create a list of important, high-priority changes that have to be put in place for this time in 2030. 

The first and most important recommended change is that we have to make employment opportunities for seniors far more attractive. From flexible working hours to easy access to skills training, there is much more that has to be done to help the senior populace continue to thrive and make changes.

It’s also about creating commercial districts that can allow older people to thrive. At the moment, many cities can feel repulsive to elders who wish to simply go out and enjoy a shopping experience. 

That’s why creating specific, age-friendly commercial districts to go along with new housing communities should be a major priority for all involved in this discussion.

Of course, the problem is that there has to be enough staff to help make this possible. already, it’s estimated that home care and healthcare fields are going to lack the sheer numbers of staff onboard to handle the demand placed on the system by 2030.

Therefore, more has to be done to encourage the young to take on roles that will benefit the old.

Many major cities are already making progress, such as the Los Angeles specific Purposeful Ageing project. However, individual projects are not enough; there has to be a nationwide and a global shift in how we view an ageing populace. 

Creating cities to simply cater to the young and the wealthy is not a good look; many older people are being left behind due to such policy decisions.

As such, it’s becoming more and more important that changes can be put in place that will allow seniors to enjoy a life as good as their early years. If this crisis is allowed to continue, though, we could end up facing a problem that is simply too vast and expensive to solve. Action is needed – now.