Efus’ working group on senior citizens reflects on the links between security and mobility

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Insecurity, whether real or perceived, has a direct consequence on the mobility of senior citizens who can isolate themselves or be wary of going places. This is the conclusion of an article drafted by Efus’ working group on senior citizens for a publication of the French branch of the worldwide Age-friendly Cities network.

Paris, France, May 2018 – A major challenge for our ageing societies, the mobility of seniors is too often considered as a technical issue only, i.e. related to transport, facilities and infrastructure. But anti-social behaviour, aggressions or petty crime can hamper seniors’ mobility. Such is the conclusion of an article drafted by Efus’ working group on senior citizens at the request of the French branch of the worldwide Age-friendly Cities network of the World Health Organization (WHO), which was published in April in the magazine Les Essentiels Amis des Aînés.

A category of the population that is more vulnerable in public transport and spaces

Empirical data and studies concur in finding that senior citizens by and large feel less secure than the rest of the population, in particular in cities. This insecurity has various aspects. When they use public spaces, seniors are more vulnerable to risks such as aggression, theft, being run over by a vehicle, falling because of weather conditions (slippery or icy pavement), and having difficulties in accessing buildings or public transport. Sharing public spaces with young people can also be an issue.

Insecurity and the feeling of insecurity lead seniors to isolate themselves and move around less

Insecurity or the feeling of insecurity have a direct consequence on seniors’ mobility because it leads some of them to isolate themselves or be wary of going places. Yet, mobility is an essential part of the quality of life, whatever the age, because it empowers citizens and enables them to freely access services they are entitled to (health, transport, culture…), to keep in touch with their entourage (family and friends), and be part of society (through group activities whether at work or during their free time). It is thus clear that seniors’ mobility must be taken into account by urban policies.

A holistic approach to seniors’ mobility

Efus considers that local authorities can play a leading role in better integrating seniors in society and recommends a holistic approach to mobility, which should be centred on the position of senior citizens in cities. Such an approach must take into account all the transport modes but also more broadly how seniors use public spaces.

Furthermore, security should be seen as both a tangible condition and a perception that varies according to the individuals. In order to adapt cities to the needs of older people, Efus recommends that local authorities coordinate better their public policies and foster synergies between all their administrative departments and relevant agencies. It is also important to ensure the right balance in the use of public spaces between generations.

Finally, a communication strategy is necessary to inform seniors on how to best use public transport and spaces.

Promising initiatives in French and European cities

There are a number of interesting initiatives led by French and European cities, such as Councils of Elders or the “tranquillity of seniors” operations carried out by some French local authorities together with their third sector partners and law enforcement agencies, with the objective of raising awareness among seniors. An interesting initiative in Europe is the “Senior Academy” of the Czech city of Brno, which offers seniors trainings and activities on security and prevention.

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The full version of Efus’ article is available on Efus Network or at the RFVAA.

Les essentiels. Amis des aînés, n°6, April 2018. To order a copy: contact@rfvaa.com

The working group on seniors is open to all interested members. For more information, see Efus Network or contact Pilar De La Torre: delatorre@efus.eu

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