Inclusivity and increased participation for the elderly

Do you ever feel bombarded with change from every direction? Do you find it difficult to keep up with the ever evolving systems and lifestyles and the number of choices you have? If so, think of what our elders have to go through! Futurist Alvin Toffler said, “ too much change in such a short period of time often leads to shattering stress and disorientation” in his book Future Shock.

Technology advancements have changed so rapidly in the past years that people sometimes find it extremely hard to cope up with it – especially the older generations. New systems and practices impact the society’s customs, values, beliefs and lifestyle.

UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 calls for “inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” cities. (United Nations Sustainable Development, 2015) One of it’s goal’s also looks into enhancing the capacity for participatory planning in cities. These words paint a utopian picture but it’s certainly more complex than that. The evident obstacle is the fact that elders sometimes fear of being a nuisance or fear of looking silly if they ask for help. Quite often, they convince themselves that they’re too old to learn too.

In an interview with Mr. Pavan Agarwal, Public Works – city engineer practicing in Bullhead, Arizona, I got to know that sustainability often gets sidelined at the start of the project because it becomes quite expensive to incorporate it in the early stages of urban planning.

And as designers or merely concerned human beings, there could be a number of approaches for us to do something about it:

  • Spatial interventions – ways in which we could make our land greener, infrastructure more participatory and inclusive;

  • Social interventions – ways in which we can increase citizen engagement (for the elderly in this case) and reduce the dependence of elders on others. How could we help them cope up with these changing times?(World Bank, 2015)

So, let’s design systems that would empower and engage the older population. Encourage them to participate in the community and become independent!


United Nations Sustainable Development. (2015). Cities – United Nations Sustainable Development Action 2015. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Sep. 2017].

World Bank. (2015). Inclusive Cities. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Sep. 2017].

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