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5 Ways to Know if Your Community Is "Age-Friendly"

AARP's Livable Communities initiative is putting towns and cities to the test

by Melissa Stanton, editor and project manager, AARP Livable Communities

One in five adults will be age 65 or older by 2030. Answer five easy questions to gauge whether your community is ready, and then read about free resources to help you adapt.

Due to both longer life-expectancies and the aging of the boomer generation, the United States will soon have its largest population of older adults ever, with one out of every five adults – more than 70 million people – age 65 or older by 2030. Unlike during past generations, when people retired by 65 and moved in droves to Sunbelt retirement villages, today's older adults are often still working, some still have children at home, and many want to "age-in-place" by remaining in the home and/or community they love. Is your community ready for these changes?  

Try answering the following questions:

  1. Does your community have a variety of housing options, so families or people who live alone or are empty nesters can find and afford a suitable house or apartment?
  2. Does your community have sidewalks?
  3. Can people get to stores, restaurants, and other needed places without a car?  
  4. Can a pedestrian or bicyclist safely cross and travel along your community's main streets?
  5. Does your community have indoor and outdoor public spaces where people can gather or relax?

Chances are your answers are a mix of "Yes," "No," and, perhaps, "Sort of." But each feature is among the elements that help make a community livable not just for older adults, but people of all ages.

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AARP offers a number of free resources to local leaders to support them in their efforts to be age-friendly. A key program is the Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which currently serves 70 communities representing more than 31 million people and ranging in size from New York City (8.4 million residents) to Bowdoinham, Maine (3,000 residents).

Membership in the free AARP-sponsored network helps local leaders plan for their population's changing demographics and set in place programs and projects that will enable residents of all ages to lead a high quality of life and engage fully in the community for a lifetime. ICMA and AARP have teamed up to offer you and your colleagues a chance to learn more about the Network in a free webinar on October 27 at 1pm EDT; read about the webinar and register online here.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the Age-Friendly Network, visit AARP.org/agefriendly. To learn more about AARP Livable Communities and to subscribe to its free, award-winning monthly e-newsletter, visit AARP.org/livable. ICMA also features a number of resource in its Knowledge Network at icma.org/agefriendly.

  

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