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Hannah R. Marston1 & Joost van Hoof2,3

1Health and Wellbeing Strategic Research Area, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK. Hannah.Marston@open.ac.uk @HannahRMarston

2 The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Social Work & Education, Johanna Westerdijkplein 75, 2521 EN Den Haag, The Netherlands; j.vanhoof@hhs.nl

3Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Geodesy, Institute of Spatial Management, ul. Grunwaldzka 55, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland.

Age-friendly cities and communities has been an area of interest for nearly 20-years, with various case studies, locations and features primarily focused on from the eight domains published by the WHO age-friendly cities’ framework in 2007. To demonstrate the growing interest in this inter-and-multi-disciplinary domain of gerontology, a 30-paper special issue has been published, by guest editors Professor Joost van Hoof and Dr Hannah R. Marston, and includes insights, thoughts, commentary, and research from diverse and inclusive scholars from across an international academic community. This extensive special issue includes contributes from the following countries: USA, UK, Romania, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, Poland, Portugal, The Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Czechia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, and Spain.

The contributions in this special issue illustrate the innovate research investigations and growth within the age-friendly domain. Creativity and innovation in today’s society and research is important for pushing the narratives and boundaries affording actors to learn from each other, share knowledge, skills, and expertise. Implementing a co-production approach also has its place and affords citizens – old and young to have their voices heard.

In the following section all contributions are accessible, and the editorial provides an overview of each paper.



  1. Anghel, et al. Smart Environments and Social Robots for Age-Friendly Integrated Care Services
  2. Baraković, et al. Quality of Life Framework for Personalised Ageing: A Systematic Review of ICT Solutions
  3. Bennetts, et al. Thermal Personalities of Older People in South Australia: A Personas-Based Approach to Develop Thermal Comfort Guidelines
  4. Blakey, et al. Knowing, Being and Co-Constructing an Age-Friendly Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
  5. Codd, Prisons, Older People and Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: Towards an Inclusive Approach
  6. Davern, et al. How Can the Lived Environment Support Healthy Ageing? A Spatial Indicators Framework for the Assessment of Age-Friendly Communities
  7. de Boer, et al. The Homestead: Developing a Conceptual Framework through Co-Creation for Innovating Long-Term Dementia Care Environments
  8. del Barrio, et al. Physical Environment vs. Social Environment: What Factors of Age-Friendliness Predict Subjective Well-being in Men and Women?
  9. Dikken, et al. How Old People Experience the Age-Friendliness of Their City: Development of the Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Questionnaire
  10. Ferrari, et al. Is Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry ‘Getting Old’? How Psychiatry Referrals in the General Hospital have Change over 20 Years
  11. Freeman, et al. Intergenerational Effects on the Impacts of Technology Use in Later Life: Insights from an International, Multi-Site Study
  12. Ivan, et al. Smart and Age-Friendly Cities in Romania: An Overview of Public Policy and Practice
  13. Klicnik, et al. Perspectives on Active Transportation in a Mid-Sized Age-Friendly City: “You Stay Home”
  14. Liddle, et al. Connecting at Local Level: Exploring Opportunities for Future Design of Technology to Support Social Connections in Age-friendly Communities
  15. Loos, et al. The Role of Mobility Digital Ecosystems for Age-Friendly Urban Public Transport: A Narrative Literature Review
  16. Luijkx, et al. The Academic Collaborative Center Older Adults: A Description of Co-Creation between Science, Care Practice and Enducation with the Aim to Contribute to Person-Centered Care for Older Adults
  17. Marston, et al. How does a (Smart) Age-Friendly Ecosystem Look in a Post-Pandemic Society?
  18. Marston, et al. A Commentary on Blue Zones: A Critical Review of Age-Friendly Environments in the 21st Century and Beyond
  19. Pedell, et al. Combining the Digital, Social and Physical Layer to Create Age-Friendly Cities and Communities
  20. Rémillard-Boilard, et al. Developing Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: Eleven Case Studies from around the World
  21. Reuter, et al. Digitalising the Age-Friendly City: Insights from Participatory Action Research
  22. Ronzi, et al. How is Respect and Social Inclusion Conceptualised by Older Adults in an Aspiring Age-Friendly City? A Photovoice Study in the North-West of England.
  23. Rusinovic, et al. Towards Responsible Rebellion: How Founders Deal with Challenges in Establishing and Governing Innovative Living Arrangements for Older People
  24. Sengers, et al. Innovation Pathways for Age-Friendly Homes in Europe
  25. Silvius, et al. Effects of Technology Use on Ageing in Place: The iZi Pilots
  26. Sterns, et al. Prioritizing Age-Friendly Domains for Transforming a Mid-Sized American City
  27. Versey, et al. Beyond Housing: Perceptions of Indirect Displacements, Displacement Risk, and Aging Precarity as Challenges to Aging in Place in Gentrifying Cities
  28. von Faber, et al. Engaging Older People in Age-Friendly Cities through Participatory Video Design
  29. Ziganshina, et al. Smart and Age-Friendly Cities in Russia: An Exploratory Study of Attitudes, Perceptions, Quality of Life and Health Information Needs

This special issue provides scholars from a multitude of disciplines the opportunity to learn and carry-on conducting research, thoughts, and narratives in this arena. It is the first special issue that also addresses the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to age-friendly societies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of environments, space, positive ageing-in-place, while we have seen through various media channels how citizens are utilizing their backyards, going for walks, and exercising in public spaces such as parks in different lockdowns. We have also heard and possibly experienced ourselves the importance of social connections with our friends, family, and neighbours. Although the British media have been focusing primarily on older adults and school children (in relation to their education, and schools shutting) in their coverage of the pandemic, there has been little to no acknowledgement of those people in society who are intergenerational, and who live alone, and/or who may be childless, working from home and/or geographically displaced from their friends and family. How does the physical space, and age-friendly environments coupled with the pandemic impact on these types of people who have been discarded over the last 12 months?

It is likely that those individuals in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s have been and are continuing to experience loneliness and social isolation, they may not have seen anyone or even speak to anyone from one day to the next. While for many people across these different age groups who are working from home, or even travelling into work, the feeling of loneliness manifests itself differently for different people. Implementing a life course approach would truly facilitate an age-friendly society which in turn would enable various actors to learn, understand and implement the different perspectives, needs, requirements and concerns.

In the latter weeks of January 2021, there has been widespread unprecedented rioting in the Netherlands and curfew’s imposed (9pm CET), which have impacted on the lives of all citizens for various reasons. For example, some citizens may prefer to take an evening walk through their town, city, or village, when it is less busy (children are already put to bed) and as an approach to winding down before retiring to bed. While some people may say or suggest taking an evening walk prior to the curfew commencing, this is not necessarily suitable for all citizens. A curfew, without a clear exit strategy, further limits the control people experience in times of a pandemic, and limits the options people have for social engagement, and thus, mental well-being and resilience. Adapting to our physical and personal spaces, is something that we have all had to do and given that we are spending more and more time in our respective environments, ensuring it is suitable for ourselves, intergenerational living, and for ALL citizens old and young, especially those people who live on their own.   

From a UK standpoint we have escaped curfew so far, which has allowed citizens to continue going about their business, take an evening stroll through the streets of their city, town, or village, without worrying about being fined. However, circumstances such as living on our own, is similar to those Dutch citizens, and the impact of living on your own could be perceived as ideal by some people who have additional responsibilities (such as home schooling, caring etc.); older and younger people who are single, living on their own and childless  and who are not being able to spend time with friends and/or family members does impact those respective citizens.

For a person in adulthood, who is ageing without children and living on their own the  pandemic will be taking its toll on them. While this special issue includes a rich set of contributions primarily focusing on older people, it does include the impact of the environment from the standpoint of young-mid-age cohorts and their sense of feeling loneliness, mental health and how respective citizens are or could improve their respective space. In the editorial we have proposed thoughts for going forward, but future work should also include exploration of the impact age-friendly environments are used within the remit of young-middle-age cohorts. Taking a life course perspective would facilitate a myriad of environments to evolve for all citizen’s not just older people. In our view, this fundamental insight lies at the true heart of an age-friendly community, as we’ve stated in the editorial piece of the special issue.

This special issue commenced in September 2019 and was completed in early February 2021 and illustrates the innovative research by scholars who are attempting to push the boundaries and move existing discussions forward, both in countries with and without an established research tradition in the field.

We hope the contributions in this special issue will inspire colleagues, peers, and the wider academic community to move forward with their own research endeavours and build new collaborations in the years to come.

Given the nature and extensive collection of this special issue ‘Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: State of the Art and Future Perspectives’ the publisher will be transferring this collection of works into a book which will be available in 2021.