Opinion: Cities Have Much to Offer For Seniors

Cities may enhance the experience provided by traditional senior living communities, says a recent Harvard Business Review column. The column, titled “Cities Are the Answer: What Was the Question?” totes some of the major advantages to city living for people in their senior years.

“Consider senior care,” the column says. “Over the past thirty years, we have built thousands of senior housing and continuing care facilities in this country. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of those are located in sprawled and isolated suburban locations. These are locations where the senior residents are surrounded primarily by other senior residents. These are locations where there are no shops, restaurants, cultural or recreational facilities and no walkable destinations other than the hallway. To access any of those amenities, the seniors must be shuttled in vans off-site.”

The columnist contrasts the typical senior living scenario with a traditional urban neighborhood, Boston’s North End, which has its share of shops, restaurants, sidewalks, parks and transportation. In his argument for senior living, the author gives the example of his mother-in-law, who broker her hip and required nursing care. A facility in Boston’s North End offered the conveniences of city living along with her care needs.

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“Dozens of shops and restaurants were yards away from her front door,” the column continues. “World-class healthcare (Massachusetts General Hospital) was blocks away. She could sit outside her door and be part of neighborhood life and its thousands of residents. We could visit her virtually every day as we walked to and from work. The quality of those years was vastly improved, for my mother-in-law and for us, because she was part of the ‘hood.”

Cities can also compete in terms of transit, energy efficiency, and housing affordability, the column states, providing improved welfare for senior citizens.

Read the entire Harvard Business Review column.

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