What is an AFC?
An age-friendly community (AFC) is a community where policies, services and physical spaces are designed to enable people of all ages to live in secure and accessible physical and social environments. AFCs contribute to good health and allow people to participate fully in society throughout their lifetime.
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities project, in consultation with 33 cities in 22 countries, developed eight domains of AFCs. These domains outline the physical and social aspects of communities that contribute to independent and active aging.
Eight AFC Domains
1. Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings
Neighbourhoods that are safe and accessible enable outdoor activities and community engagement. This involves removing barriers that limit opportunities for people with mobility challenges or disabilities. It also involves allowing older adults to participate in social activities or to access important health and social services and businesses.
Personal mobility is affected by the condition and design of transportation-related infrastructure such as signage, traffic lights and sidewalks. Access to reliable, affordable public transit becomes increasingly important when driving becomes stressful or challenging.
The availability of appropriate, affordable housing with a choice of styles and locations and that incorporates flexibility through adaptive features is essential for age-friendly communities.
4. Social Participation
Interacting with family and friends is an important part of positive mental health and community awareness. Social participation involves the level of interaction that older adults have with other members of their community and the extent that the community itself makes this interaction possible.
5. Respect and Social Inclusion
Community attitudes of respect and recognition to the role older adults play in our society are critical to establishing an age-friendly community. Age-friendly communities foster positive images of aging and intergenerational understanding to challenge negative attitudes.
6. Civic Participation and Employment
Civic engagement involves activities that enable older adults to contribute to their community, such as volunteering, becoming politically active, voting, and working on committees. Age-friendly communities enable older adults to remain employed or find new employment. This also benefits employers who recognize the experience and commitment that older employees bring to the workplace.
7. Communication and Information
Age-friendly communities ensure information about community events or important services is readily accessible and in formats that are appropriate for older adults. An age-friendly community also recognizes the diversity of older adults and promotes outreach initiatives to non-traditional families, ethno-cultural minorities, newcomers and Aboriginal communities.
8. Community Support and Health Services
A range of services that help promote, protect, and maintain independence and mental and physical health should be available and accessible to people of all ages and health statuses.
For examples of each dimension, view the WHO Age-Friendly Checklist.