Planning ahead

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Planning Ahead – Why local planners need to speak to the elderly.

Local planners need to consult with the elderly now to design for the elderly in the future. Simply issues to someone younger, become major ones to someone older.

Call me controversial, call me outspoken, call me a pain in the proverbial… me what you like, but listen to me and others like me. We want to help!

For years I have observed elderly people going about their daily lives. I don’t just see them, I understand their needs at a basic level. Without being elderly, I understand what is is to be elderly, and old age does not come alone.

As a young Mother, many moons ago now, I would push the pram along the pavements in my town and be pretty unaware of dropped curbs or a steep camber. A walk with a 95-year-old and his wheeled walker soon allowed me to understand the additional trials of age. Those raised “bumps” at the edge of a pavement alerting people with poor sight of an approaching road, are a menace to wheels and walking sticks.The camber of pavements pose no problems until your legs are unsteady and any wobble could result in a fall.

“Plan ahead planners”, is what I say. With our aging population and dangerous demographics, some simple thought and consideration could save both human pain and financial woe.

Look at bus stops for example. Why do planners put bus stops so far away from road crossings, especially near supermarkets? Safety maybe? What is more dangerous, a weary, unsteady pensioner cutting his way through moving traffic with a “walking stick sabre”. We have all seen them, walking stick held out in front, they boldly step into the moving traffic daring motorists to continue. Why not put the crossing to the supermarket to the side of the bus stop keeping us all safe?

Crossings – don’t get me started. Nowhere near enough crossings in town centres. I understand that local councils need to keep traffic flowing smoothly,I am a motorist myself but elderly people can’t manage to walk the distance to the crossing. What do they do ? Walking stick sabres again, cross then and there, it’s a necessity, its independence, it’s survival.

Public benches and seats in Doctors and Dentists, my next gripe. Why are they so low? At home most elderly people have resorted to rise and recline chairs or elevated ones, so why are seats so low in public? For children perhaps, but Mum or Dad can lift them, have you seen how an elderly person struggles to get up from a low seat?

Supermarkets, not good for short people, I often struggle at 5ft4 to reach top shelves. For elderly people, it is often a reach too far. Yes, some supermarkets offer help on the shop floor but never enough for the growing number of ageing, shoppers, many of whom are far too proud to ask for help.Some forward thinkers in this area are offering dementia friendly and slow isles. Is that thoughtful or stigmatising?

Small problems solved at planning level could save falls, hospitalisation, bed blocking, loss of independence.I could continue……..

but who would listen?


Award-winning blogger and former care columnist for Devon Life magazine. I am passionate about helping elderly people and people with dementia live purposeful and independent lives.
Designer of the Dementia Assistance Card and Points Of Light award recipient, Caron hopes to help carers when resources are limited and demand is ever-increasing. I am here to support you.

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