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!
Finally, a new Age-Friendly initiative is in the late planning stages. In collaboration with the Chicago Department of Public Health and in partnership with Catholic Charities, the South Austin Coalition and Salvation Army, a pilot replicating the "village model", so successful in affluent communities, will be launched in Englewood and Austin charging no fees to the Seniors and using two of Chicago's senior centers as their hub. Our new model engages church, area businesses and community organizations to join together to enable Seniors to continue to live in their communities with the supports they need. This interdependent model is one we hope will expand to all 21 Senior Centers and cover the City of Chicago.
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