On a recent trip to the North of Spain we were told about several new initiatives to promote healthy ageing. One example is led by the council of Gijon, a city located on the Northern coast of Spain, where shared housing is being developed for people over the age of 65.
Spain is one of the countries that has seen a significant shift in demographics over recent decades. Traditionally, Spanish households were made up of large families living together and looking after each other. As people got older there were children and grandchildren to support, help with chores around the house and keep each other company. The number of single-person households has increased 5x since 1977 – from 700,000 to 3.8 million in 2015, 22% of homes compared to only 8% in 1977. Probably more so than in Northern Europe this will mean a major change in how people live in later life.
The recent survey carried out in Gijon led to a battery of 116 measures to improve the lives of the elderly – with a focus on housing and shared living in older age to ensure local residents can enjoy their independence and familiar lifestyle long into their 80s and beyond.
It is great when local governments are recognising a need and helping to support an initiative like this.
We will be following its progress over the next few months. This is one of many examples and only the start of a major change in thinking that is taking place all over Europe.