The Census Bureau projects 2030 to be a transformative decade for the US population. Advancements in medicine and public health have led to more people living longer. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2035, older adults will outnumber children for the first time in US history. This rapid increase has major implications and will place un-precedented demands on cities and communities. In response, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Initiative was launched in 2005 in partnership with AARP in the United States. This network has expanded to over 37 countries around the world and to over 300 cities in the United States.
The demographic shifts projected nationally will be mirrored in Berkeley. The population of older adults in Berkeley will double in the next 10 years, resulting in 1 in 5 adults being over 65 years of age. Life expectancy in Berkeley is 86.7 years for women and 83 years for men, compared to 78.8 years nationally and 80.8 years in California. Mortality rates in Berkeley are lower than those of surrounding Alameda County and California— reflecting the city’s long life expectancy. 10 As with health status, there are great disparities in longevity based on race and class.
According to a study by AARP and the Age-Friendly Berkeley community survey, the vast majority of older adults want to age in their homes and communities. An Age-Friendly community promotes policies, enhances services, and creates a built environment that enables a growing population of older adults to age in their community while supporting a more inclusive, equitable and accessible city for all.
Create a culture and community
that is inclusive, equitable, and
accessible for people of all ages.
The Goal of Age-Friendly Berkeley
Toward an Age-Friendly Berkeley
Age Friendly Berkeley is a collective effort whose goal is to ensure that all Berkeley residents are connected, healthy and engaged in their environments. Enhancing the affordability of places to live, the inclusivity of social activities, the accessibility of infrastructure, the safety of our public spaces and improving communication and access to information are activities that will make Berkeley a better place to grow up and grow old. Addressing the needs of our older population benefits people of all ages. To realize this vision, the Age-Friendly Berkeley initiative pulls together public and private leadership, resources, ideas, and strategies; it builds on information gleaned from the community. The leadership team for this project has local residents and members from the city, the health sector, and the nonprofit sector (see Appendix A) who have helped build partnerships to ensure the recommendations are relevant and feasible.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Initiative provided a framework and network of similar efforts that supported the development of this Action Plan.
“An age-friendly community enables people of all ages to actively participate in community activities and treats everyone with respect, regardless of their age. It is a place that makes it easy for older people to stay connected to people who are important to them. And it is a place that helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages and provides appropriate support to those who can no longer look after themselves.”
— World Health Organization