Edward Steinfeld, AIA and Director of the IDeA Center, wrote a fantastic article for the American Architectural Foundation about the need for age-friendly community design. Steinfeld argues that the creation of age-restricted communities, like The Villages in Orlando, FL, removes older adults who can afford them from the community at large. This negatively impacts communities, which greatly benefit from the contributions of active seniors. The lack of age diversity in these segregated senior communities also creates a situation that is not socially sustainable for the residents. Steinfeld wonders what will happen in these communities once most of the residents are in their 80s and 90s. What’s the solution?
Steinfield goes on to explore the ways in which Universal Design can make communities more functional and beneficial for all citizens, including older adults. He discusses how stores like IKEA have used Universal Design to benefit their customers and improve sales. Steinfeld also explores the model of Nordic co-housing communities, which have no age restrictions and can help to support older adults while allowing them to continue engaging in the wider world.