The Evolution of Age-friendly NYC
In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Global Age-friendly Cities project in recognition of the converging trends of urbanization and population aging. The initiative asked 35 cities to lead discussions with their older residents to explore the strengths and challenges of aging in cities. The information gathered through this research, with the help of the Academy, was used to develop a guide for global age-friendly cities.
Beginning in 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and The New York Academy of Medicine launched Age-friendly New York City with its first undertaking being a comprehensive assessment of the city’s age-friendliness across the WHO’s 8 Domains of an Age-friendly City
The assessment included guided conversations with more than 1,500 older adults across the city in six languages, roundtable discussions with hundreds of professionals, a literature review, and extensive mapping. In the fall of 2008, the Academy released the findings of the assessment process in Toward an Age-friendly City: A Findings Report.
In response to the findings of the community assessment, the Office of the Mayor and the New York City Council asked all city agencies to consider how they could improve the way they integrate and serve older adults through their work. Out of this review, in 2009, the City announced 59 initiatives to improve the quality of life of older adults, which are outlined in Age-friendly NYC: Enhancing Our City's Livability for Older New Yorkers.
In 2010, the first Commission for an Age-friendly NYC was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg. The Commission is composed of civic leaders from across sectors and disciplines working to develop the overall strategy for Age-friendly NYC and to engage private organizations in changing the culture of New York City to become more inclusive of older people. The Age-friendly NYC Commission has helped New York City become a global leader in the age-friendly cities movement through an array of innovative projects, many of which have been replicated or adapted in other parts of the world. Products include the Cultural Arts Guide for Seniors, Age-friendly College Link, a database of educational opportunities for older people, and age-friendly tools for neighborhoods, small businesses, architects, building owners, librarians, and urban planners.
In 2015, Age-friendly NYC was included as an initiative of OneNYC, the City’s strategic plan for growth, sustainability, resilience, and equity. And in September 2015, the Commission was reseated by Mayor de Blasio under the leadership of Ed Lewis, Founder of Essence Communications (Essence and Latina magazines) and Audrey Weiner, President of The New Jewish Home, and has convened working groups around the following four priorities through 2017: housing, public safety, professions (primary care, pharmacy, and banking), and media, arts and culture. Each working group is working to address cross-cutting themes, which include social justice and equity; intergenerational connection; the emergence of technology; and the increasing prevalence of dementia.