Making a community age-friendly

The concept of Age-friendly communities was originally developed by the World Health Organization.

They identified eight domains that contribute to communities becoming more age-friendly.

An age-friendly community:

  • respects the rights of older people
  • celebrates older people – including their capacities, resources, life-styles and preferences
  • addresses inequality in the community, for example disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion/beliefs, rural/urban
  • values older people and encourages them to participate in the community life
  • connects people across all ages.

Translating this into process, the age-friendly approach is:

  • co-designed where partners and stakeholders, including older people, work across sectors
  • needs people throughout the community to be involved at all stages, recognising that older people are the experts in their own lives
  • builds on what has already been achieved or is underway
  • inclusive of everyone – regardless of age, culture and ability – recognising older people are the experts in their own lives
  • a bottom-up participatory approach combined with top-down political commitment and resources.

Become age-friendly

  1. Kick start
  • Decide the location for change (neighborhood, town or region)
  • Set up a steering group
  • Arrange funding and how this will be managed (e.g. an existing Trust)
  • Get the support of your local council.


  • Who are your key stakeholders?
  • Who are your cultural representatives?
  • Which organisations work with seniors?
  1. Assess how age friendly your community is now


  • What works well in the community?
  • Where are the gaps and opportunities?
  • Consider the different ways to get feedback (a survey, interviews, focus groups or a forum? It could be more than one).
  1. Develop an action plan
  • Identify and prioritise the changes needed
  • Create a timeline
  • Consult with stakeholders


  • Who will lead the work?
  • What sub-groups are needed?
  • What funding is needed?
  • Is the plan feasible?
  1. Implementation
  • Assign project leads and teams
  • Develop a business case
  • Identify decision-makers and stakeholders who need to be involved
  1. Evaluate
  • Identify what went well and what could be improved.

To find out what other communities around the world have done go to the WHO Global Database of Age-friendly Cities and Communities

What to remember

The process should be a partnership between older people, services, NGOs, and the local council.


  • it is important to get people involved throughout the community
  • start by looking at what your community has already begun, or achieved, and build on that
  • it’s important to get buy-in and support from community leaders, not just officials.