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Written by: Michael Bolton on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 Posted in:

Adding more time for pedestrians to cross more than 400 busy intersections, yellow school bus transportation to grocery stores for the elderly, and “perches” where tired older residents doing errands could take a break are just a few of the “aging improvements” happening in New York to help make the city a kindler, gentler place for its older residents.

According to the New York Times article, “A Fast –Paced City Tries to Be a Gentler Place to Grow Old,” people live in New York because it is like no place else — pulsating with life, energy and a wealth of choices — but there is some recognition among city planners that it could be a kinder and gentler place in which to grow old.  And, fortunately for its older residents, the city’s efforts to become an easier place to grow old are gaining strength as the baby boomer generation starts reaching retirement age.

With the aging population skyrocketing in New York, there’s no question something must be done to ease the burdens of growing old in a city.  The Department of City Planning is predicting that in 20 years, the number of school children and older people in New York will be about the same, 15 percent of the total population each, a sharp change from 1950, when school children outnumbered older residents by more than 2 to 1. By 2030, the number of New Yorkers age 65 and over is expected to reach 1.35 million, up 44 percent from 2000.

The New York Academy of Medicine adopted the idea of creating an age-friendly city from the World Health Organization in 2007 and is leading the charge to create two pilot aging improvement districts, one in East Harlem and the other on the Upper West Side. The exact details of how designated aging districts in the city will function are still being worked out, but the goal is to create a public-private partnership that would encourage businesses to voluntarily adopt amenities for the elderly. Examples could include window stickers that identify businesses as age friendly; extra benches; adequate lighting; menus with large type; and even happy hour for older residents.

Read the full NY Times story here.