National research shows that 10% of people over 65 are chronically lonely. The population of Middlesbrough is 142,000, with 23,000 people aged over 65. This means there are an estimated 2,300 people over 65 in Middlesbrough who are experiencing loneliness and isolation.
Middlesbrough Council and Public Health South Tees are working in partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough to achieve age-friendly community status. We hope to reduce the impact of loneliness and isolation by working on some of the key things which make a town age-friendly.
Age-friendly is a concept developed by the World Health Organisation. It includes 8 topics (known as domains) which older people have said are important to improve their quality of life. The 8 domains of age-friendly communities are:
- outdoor spaces
- social participation
- respect and social inclusion
- civic participation and employment
- communication and information
- community support and health services
You can find out more about the eight domains of age-friendly on the Centre for Ageing Better website.
Age-friendly communities make it possible for older people to keep living in their own homes, taking part in the activities they enjoy, and contributing to their communities, for as long as possible.
Being an age-friendly community is not just about achieving a standard once. It's about ongoing work and changes, making improvements at whatever pace we can, to meet the diverse needs of older people. You can watch a short video from the Centre for Ageing Better to find out more about age-friendly communities.
Age-related sensory loss affects most of us as we grow older. With an ageing population, introducing an approach towards integrated health care and inclusive environments could be a chance for those affected by the sensory loss.
Approximately 360 million people in the world have a hearing loss that affects their everyday life and functional ability.
RNIB states that 4 in 5 people in England has some kind of visual impairment are over 60, one in two people aged 90 and over are living with sight loss. According to Action on Hearing Loss, more than 40% of people over 50 years old have hearing loss, rising to 71% of people over the age of 70.
It is estimated that around 5.9% of the population of Middlesbrough has some form of sensory impairment. The majority of those people are aged over 65.
Sensory loss has a significant impact on the feeling of loneliness and experiencing isolation, as well as poor mental health. Still, many services and businesses don’t offer accessible information. Simple things like GP services allowing people to book appointments through text messages, or creating a quiet corner at the local coffee shop, can improve things for people with sensory loss.
To find out more visit the sensory support page.
'Please have a seat' campaign
In places where 'please have a seat' signs are displayed, shoppers are able to sit down and rest, use a bathroom (where accessible), or have a drink of water. This support has a positive impact on both shoppers and businesses, especially those who want to be more welcoming of older people and those with mobility issues.
Check the 'please have a seat' campaign page to find out more (and sign up if you're a business).
'Getting around Middlesbrough' age-friendly transport guide
The Ageing Better Middlesbrough action group set up an age-friendly transport group to discuss improvements to transport and accessibility. The group helped to identify services to help people to travel and get around Middlesbrough safely. These are listed in the age-friendly transport guide (PDF).
The group also created journey assistance cards, which passengers can use to ask for extra support on their journey. You can see examples of the cards in the transport guide, or laminated versions of the cards are available at The Live Well Centre in the Dundas Arcade.
Getting Ready for an Age Friendly Middlesbrough - training
Middlesbrough Council's Public Health team, in partnership with Ageing Better Middlesbrough, are delivering age-friendly training. The training will give participants a better understanding of how to support older people to age better in our community. It includes:
- research and local information on the older population in Middlesbrough
- exploring the physical and psychological aspects of ageing, as well as looking at implications for our town and its services/businesses through local case studies
- suggestions of how to support older people to age better in our community, including mental health, sight / hearing loss, chronic disease, dementia, mobility, and the effects of medication
By the end of the session, participants will understand what is meant by 'age-friendly', and will recognise the ageing process and its impact on the quality and challenges of daily life.
The training is open to all staff, carers, and other community members. The date of the next face to face training session will be announced soon.