In July 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel secured a place for Chicago in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities. As a part of the WHO network, Chicago joins a growing number of cities and communities worldwide who are striving to better meet the needs of residents of all ages by creating inclusive and accessible urban environments.
An age-friendly city like Chicago aspires to be an ‘inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active aging’. The World Health Organization (WHO) model is built on the premise that an age-friendly city sustains ‘opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age’. Cities who join the network commit to a five-year cycle of planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Upon Chicago’s acceptance into this global network, Mayor Emanuel directed the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to lead a process to craft an Age-Friendly Chicago Plan.
DFSS worked with its outstanding research partner, the Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society (BCAHS) at Northwestern University to develop the Age-Friendly Chicago Assessment and Benchmarking Report. The full report and executive summary are attached below. Mayor Emanuel convened his department and agency heads to work on implementation of the initiatives set forth in the Report. The Mayor also convened a meeting of community leaders and formed an Age-Friendly Commission.
The Caregiver Support Program recognizes that thousands of City employees are caring for aging parents as well as grandparents who are their grandchildren's sole support. The City created this program for our employees but you can find out more information by downloading the presentation at the link below or you can call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 1.312.744.4016. There are multiple support groups being held throughout the city for family caregivers and older relatives raising children; please see our Life Enrichment Brochure below for more details.
The Department of Human Resources is currently conducting information sessions for City of Chicago employees who are local or long distance caregivers of their loved ones. If you are a City of Chicago employee, please go to firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection helped launch Age-Friendly Businesses, educating business owners on ways to be more welcoming to the Seniors of Chicago. Please see our presentation below!
Since the overwhelming conclusion of the Age-Friendly needs assessment is that Seniors want to age in place, in their own homes and communities, we have successfully launched an initiative which turns our 21 Senior Centers into non-fee “Villages”. The Village Interdependent Collaborative (VIC) project is patterned after the model successful in affluent neighborhoods such as Beacon Hill in Boston and Lincoln Park, Hyde Park and Streeterville in Chicago. However it differs in that there is no fee for Chicago Seniors to join. It creates an infrastructure of volunteers and community partners to build a safety net around older residents who are aging in place and reintegrates them back into the community once they are stabilized with city services. To date 6 of the 21 VICs are operational. They are: Englewood, Austin, Pilsen, Edgewater, Northeast, and Portage Park. The remaining VICs will be open by the end of 2018.
An initiative we have launched for Seniors aging in high rises uses the same concept. The Vertical Interdependent Village (VIV) model creates the same safety net within the 3,000+ high rise buildings in Chicago. Currently we are running pilots in high rises in the Loop and the Southeast side of the City. We also have created a pilot in several Chicago Housing Authority Senior Buildings using our Senior Companion Program participants as support for the Seniors aging in place.
Other Useful Links:
- WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities Guidebook
- WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (PDF): A two-page, tri-fold brochure that covers the main points and process of the global network
- Age-Friendly Chicago Report: Phase 1 Findings
- Final Age-Friendly Chicago Report
- Age-Friendly Executive Summary
- Village Interdependent Collaboratives (VIC) Memorandum
- Senior Services Senior Center Map
- NPR Village Movement Interview
- Life Enrichment Brochure