There is no better place to be right now than Grand Rapids, Michigan. Every day, new buildings are being erected. Around every corner is a new cool place to be or to shop and every week there is something fun to do. It has been recognized lately for its tourism options, beer selection, food quality, and family environment. The city is happy, active, and thriving, but what about for seniors?
In a recent age-friendly discussion, the community got a chance to discuss the factors in Grand Rapids that are inhibiting its elderly residents. Here are a few of the city’s main concerns.
One of the main concerns for seniors in Grand Rapids was the condition of the sidewalks. Often times, they are not able to access the amenities in their area due to poor maintenance. In the winter, sidewalks are covered in ice and snow that many seniors are unable to remove themselves. In the summer, some sidewalks contain cracks and holes that make walkers and canes unusable. In order to be more age-friendly and appease the older residents, Grand Rapids should consider creating a group of people devoted entirely to clearing sidewalks and steps for elderly people. Also, target neighborhoods with a high population of elderly residents and make sure that the sidewalks are smooth and as wheel-friendly as possible.
- Community Events
Grand Rapids has a plethora of community events that are open to all ages. However, there is a big difference between events that are open to all ages and events that welcome all ages. If elderly people are at a community event and feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, we are not succeeding in our mission to create an age-friendly community. Granted, we certainly have events that cater specifically to the aging population. At these, they can mingle with their peers and partake in activities deemed age appropriate. However, segregation is the opposite of community. We should be creating an environment where all ages feel welcomed and celebrated.
Many people are facing a very tough situation in which they must choose to leave a home they love for a place that is less expensive or more accommodating to their growing needs. In Grand Rapids, rent increases are forcing many middle income people out of the city. Even a small increase could force out retirees who are on tight budgets. Furthermore, if a house is not equipped to handle the kinds of medical equipment needed as life progresses, it will be nearly impossible for a family with aging adults to stay. As a community, we should be more proactive in accommodating long term housing. When new developments are built, they should be handicapped accessible. We should start the conversation sooner about making the current homes we love adaptable to our needs as we age.
- Public Transportation
Although public transportation in Grand Rapids has come a long way, we are far from where we could be. As much as we hate to admit it, public transportation still has a negative stigma here. With our neighbors in Detroit producing automobiles, it has always been our Michigan dream to own our own cars thus crushing the possibility of having thriving and popular public transportation. As great companies are working hard to end this way of thought, there are still some considerations to be made for seniors. For example, the bus stops they are at must have benches for them to sit and shelter for them to be under when the weather is unpleasant.
To learn more about care for seniors, visit our homepage at Home Care Assistance Grand Rapids.