Healthy aging in urban Japan and Sweden

I am currently leading a new international collaborative project to evaluate and compare urban conditions in a representative selection of neighborhoods in Musashino (Japan) and Jönköping (Sweden), which have higher proportions of older residents, with reference to their potential to support or constrain healthy and active aging (principally street-level activities, such as walking, cycling, park use etc.).

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The spatial map above represents the sampling frame for a medium sized city in west Tokyo. Highlighted neighborhoods represent small urban blocks (chōme) with >25% of their resident population aged 65 or older. Starred locations represent aged care or nursing home locations, which will be the starting point for systematic audits of the urban walking environment. Audits will be undertaken across five neighborhoods in Tokyo (Japan) and Jönköping (Sweden). Findings will highlight inter-cultural challenges and opportunities for shaping and reshaping urban landscapes to support health and aging. 

The expansion of Japan's aging population represents the rapidly approaching future for other similarly developed nations. If we hope to experience a societal dividend from this demographic change, then all efforts must be undertaken to create age-friendly environments that support healthy and active aging. Through such efforts it may be possible to support proactive lifestyle behaviors that ultimately facilitate a population-level compression of morbidity. Adding life to years and years to life!