Creating age-friendly cities for kids and the elderly

Many articles today touch on the concept of “age-friendly” cities.

We have heard of “Most Liveable Cities” and “Best Retirement Cities” but “Age-friendly” is pretty new.

In an article in entitled “Malaysia plans age-friendly cities”, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry together with the United Nations Development Programme is planning an age-friendly city to encourage more public transportation to be more child-, elderly- and disabled-friendly.

Its minister Dr Wan Azizah said, “This concept envisions a town or community where the voice, needs, interests and rights of a child will be of the utmost priority in developing policies and programmes at the local government level.

“Our cities have to be age-, child- and gender-friendly as we prepare ourselves for this change in social profile.”

Wan Azizah, who is also deputy prime minister, added that 77% of Malaysia’s population currently resides in urban areas and this is expected to rise to 80% by 2030, meaning challenges such as traffic congestion, pollution and limited water resources will increase.

It is therefore important to have efficient management, partnerships, transparency and accountability so that a city will attract more investments, leading to healthy economic growth.

Liveability is also a core component of competitiveness. Therefore, cities must have basic facilities and amenities, infrastructure, public transportation, secure neighbourhoods and a clean environment.

Chart of Demographics.

When we look at the demographics of Malaysia, we can see that the lower portion is much larger than the top. In other words, the focus on cities becoming age-friendly may be pretty accurate.

What’s important is to ensure connectivity within the city as the size of a city will continue to grow wider as the number of people increases due to continuous urbanisation.

The best part of an age-friendly city is this – getting a child from home to school quickly, safely and cheaply. Kids should be allowed to become more independent.

By the way, when Malaysia becomes an ageing nation by 2040, the elderly should also have access to the same.

It is wrong to tell them to return to their small towns or villages. Let them be part of a growing and vibrant community too, if they choose to.

This article first appeared in

Charles Tan blogs at property investment site kopiandproperty. He dislikes property speculators and disagrees that renting is better than buying. He thinks it’s either property or poverty. He is presently the CEO of an auction house auctioning assets beyond just properties.