Embedding Dementia in Age-Friendly Practices: WHO Global Database of Age-Friendly Practices

Building upon the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities and its dedicated website, which also includes WHO’s Global Database of Age-friendly Practices, the single largest global repository of age-friendly practices, resolution WHA70.28 (2017) from the seventieth World Health Assembly calls for WHO to integrate and link dementia-friendly initiatives by documenting and evaluating existing dementia-friendly initiatives in order to identify evidence of what works in different contexts and disseminate this information.  

The WHO Global Database of Age-friendly Practices serves as a comprehensive repository of initiatives aimed at creating and sustaining environments that support healthy aging and encompasses a wide array of initiatives implemented by governments, organizations, and communities worldwide. It compiles and promotes age-friendly practices globally to improve the lives of older people and their families and communities. These practices address various domains needed to create and sustain age-friendly environments, including transportation, housing, social participation, health services, and community support. The database facilitates cross-sectoral collaboration and knowledge exchange, enabling stakeholders (e.g., policymakers, healthcare professionals, researchers, and advocates) to learn from successful practices and adapt them to their local contexts. 

Dementia-friendliness is tightly linked to societies also being inclusive and age-friendly. A preliminary analysis of the WHO Global Database of Age-friendly Practices shows a substantive number of practices directly related to dementia, covering all the eight age-friendly domains of action. For example: 

The Global Database also contains hundreds of other practices addressing factors that affect the risk of dementia, including the promotion of physical activity, reduction in alcohol and tobacco use, management of chronic health conditions, strategies to reduce unintended social isolation and lower levels of early life education. 

Notably, there is a large underrepresentation of age- and dementia-friendly practices coming from low- and middle-income countries, from rural, remote and indigenous communities, and from community whose main language is not English, French or Spanish. To enable better awareness raising and knowledge exchange across cities and communities globally on actions to prevent dementia and improve the lives of those living with it and their families and caregivers, better representation of policies from all global contexts is needed.  

By leveraging the knowledge and experiences documented in the database, stakeholders can collaborate to develop and implement strategies that promote age- and dementia-friendly environments and enhance the well-being and quality of life for those living with dementia. The WHO Global Database of Age-friendly Practices offers a wealth of resources and insights for promoting age-friendly environments and supporting dementia care worldwide. In recognition of the intersections between age-friendly practices and dementia-related initiatives, we encourage stakeholders to work together to create inclusive, supportive communities that enable individuals of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to live with dignity, autonomy, and quality of life.  

To submit your age- and dementia-friendly practices visit: https://extranet.who.int/agefriendlyworld/submit-afp/