Baby boomers and millennials are often at odds with one another due to differing values and desires. Baby Boomers are often blamed for the state of the economy and environmental degradation today, and millennials are seen as flippant and spoiled. Both parties enjoy pointing fingers, but the reality is these are the grandparents, parents, and children of society, and everyone must learn to work together.
In coming years, retiring baby boomers will be the largest age group in the twenty-first century to reach old-age and millennials, as a much smaller generation, will be in charge of providing for these seniors. To avoid being crushed economically on a global level, millennials and baby boomers need to put their differences aside and figure out how to support this fundamental change in society. The world is rapidly aging, with the number of people aged 60 or up growing from 11 per cent in 2006 to 22 per cent by 2050, according to the guide on building age-friendly cities by the World Health Organization (WHO). This is a massive population shift and society needs to prepare essential senior’s services in cities all over the world.
In celebration of senior’s month in Ontario, throughout the month of June there will be a lot of focus on providing services for seniors. The City of Toronto is dedicating programming to the safety of older adults with Toronto Fire Services, which includes door-to-door visits to Toronto Community Housing senior’s buildings and fire prevention services will conduct visits to provide safety tips to avoid home fires. Ontario is also supporting 460 new projects through the Senior’s Community Grant program to help seniors stay involved and active in their communities. This includes providing seniors with projects and initiatives in the non-profit sector to stay involved and engaged. Though these projects are positive for seniors, housing and transportation should be the central focus for senior’s month in Toronto.
In order to create an age-friendly city, builders must create stronger transportation. There is a global shortage of affordable housing that focuses on seniors and building infrastructure with old-age-motivated features will help avoid a housing crisis in the next 10 years. Public transportation benefits everyone and is a necessity for seniors because many can’t drive after a certain point. Buses and subways give unlimited access to essential city services such as medical and recreational services and should be a priority to build an age-friendly urban center.
When planning for seniors, providing accessibility in every part of the cityscape is also considerably important. According to the Age-friendly Checklist by Alberta Health, every aspect of a senior’s daily transportation must be easily accessible. Sidewalks need to be even for seniors with mobility issues and provided on all roadways. Public transportation must have elevators and easy access to buses and subways. Public buildings must be accommodated with handicap washrooms and ramps if there are stairs. In colder climates such as Canada, preparing for icy conditions and cold weather is also relevant for seniors.
With the better part of the baby boomer generation retiring in the next 10 years, it is imperative to start orienting infrastructure towards ensuring this large population of seniors will be taken care of. The frivolous arguments between millennials and baby boomers are ridiculous and must be abandoned. Instead, everyone must work together to ensure that seniors will have homes and transportation, and millennials won’t be crushed by the debt of an impending housing or public transit crisis.
For senior’s month, opening a discussion as to how to deal with the larger problems of creating an age-friendly city is ultimately the way to creating a stronger and more resilient city for generations to come.