The Country

In 2016 the Horowhenua District Council signed up to the World Health Organisation “Agefriendly Cities Framework” or in our case, the Age-friendly Communities Framework. The Agefriendly Communities model was aimed to foster healthy and active aging across a range of eight interconnected domains of urban life. They are: Outdoor spaces and buildings – Transportation – Housing – Social participation – Respect and Social inclusion – Civic participation and Employment – Communication and Information – Community support and Health services. The purpose of the Age-friendly Communities strategy was to improve the lives of older people in the Horowhenua and to focus on the wellness and well-being of older people. Included with the strategy was an action plan that set out ways of enhancing the wellness and well-being of older people. All of that, including the actions to be followed, the agencies responsible for implementing those actions and a timeframe for how and when the actions would be achieved. So how well has our Council and the “responsible agencies” gone in actioning the plan? In some cases, very well, in others not so well. The Horowhenua is a great place for older people to live. This is born out by the statistics that show a marked growth in seniors moving from the cities into our communities. However, all of this comes with some major challenges to the lifestyles we would wish to lead. At the present time, if you do not have a vehicle, if your mobility is somewhat compromised, if you do not have a driver license or if you struggle to walk around, then the Horowhenua is not such a great place to live. Horowhenua Grey Power is currently working with Council to try and improve the state of our footpath network. Try walking around our urban community, outside the CBD. Broken concrete sections of the footpaths abound. Sections of concrete that have been pushed up by tree roots or that have subsided over time can cause our older people to have “trip – fall” incidents. For those who are using a walker, a mobility scooter or who are visually impaired are at real risk of having an accident. Council staff have been seen to go out and mark such hazards with white paint. But if you cannot see it, the paint is of no help at all. These footpath areas need to be remediated, and soon. Another issue (which is not included in the strategy) is that of cyclists riding on the footpaths, often far too quickly, often not wearing helmets. Older people walk much more slowly and can have trouble getting out of the way of cyclists on footpaths. This is a Police enforcement matter, but in the current climate our police officers are over-stretched dealing with a myriad of other social issues. However, when they do walk the streets of the CBD they should, for everybody’s safety, be dealing with these cyclists. Our laws make provision for this. Mobility scooter drivers can be equally dangerous when driving around our CBD. Grey Power has made recommendations through our Federation for all drivers to have to wear a high-vis vest, have a flag on a whip wand and have a bicycle bell so that we can all be aware of when they are coming up, particularly behind us. That continues to be a work in progress. In our next edition we will look at other areas of the WHO Age-friendly Communities strategy and how they can impact on our older community. Terry Hemmingsen [PRESIDENT]