June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
I recently read an interesting report, the Community AGEnda, funded by Grantmakers in Aging, about the work that is being done across the U.S. to create age-friendly communities. What does it take to make a community a good place to grow old? How does Princeton fare as an age-friendly community? As our concept of aging is rapidly evolving, I believe it is time to explore these questions.
Many communities are unprepared to meet the needs of a rapidly growing older population, yet major changes are under way. It is anticipated that the population of people over age 65 will double by 2030. A significant majority (87%) of people state that they want to remain in their own homes, although many have dementia and chronic illnesses. Boomers have different expectations about aging, housing, work and recreation than their parents did. We know that community-based care is less costly than institutional care (thanks to family caregivers!). Many have not saved enough for their retirement years and public funding is shrinking. These sobering facts have enormous implications for our communities. We need to be seeking new, creative, progressive ways to meet these challenges. The Community AGEnda reports that “thought leaders now believe that the communities that fare best in the 21st century will be those that both tackle the challenges and embrace the positive possibilities that an aging population creates.” (Community AGEnda, April 2013)
The report identifies several issues that contribute to age-friendly communities:
Municipal and regional planning, with an emphasis on community and older adult input;
Housing and other building design, particularly affordable, adaptive/accessible housing and multi-generational options;
Social services, including meal delivery, adult day programs, and caregiver support, with a focus on meeting the changing needs of the frail, disabled, and homebound older people;
Transportation projects, including increased public transit and free or reduced-cost taxis and other rides, and promoting walkability and accessibility;
Health promotion, including community activities to enhance wellness and greater access to health, mental health, and home health care;
Civic engagement efforts, including intergenerational initiatives and opportunities for meaningful volunteering and paid work that benefit older people and people of all ages; and
Efforts to promote access to information, including an effective communication system reaching community residents of all ages and focusing on oral and printed communication accessible to older people.
I imagine you share my impression that Princeton does rather well on many of these issues and should meet the criteria for AARP’s “Livable Communities” and the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC). There are also areas I think we could improve, such as ensuring that these services are accessible to the diversity of this community.
The communities that are working toward being age-friendly share an “expressed desire to create places that support older adults and their families better, and enable older people to remain active, contributing members of their communities.” An age-friendly community benefits everyone. We need to re-think aging, recognizing that most older adults live healthy, active lives. They share their wisdom and time, building social capital. Promoting healthy lifestyles is important at any age, and many of the benefits of age-friendly communities improve quality of life for everyone.
We’ve seen various innovative initiatives that are part of this movement and which have spread nation-wide, including the Village to Village Network started in Beacon Hill, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (Jewish Federation), AARP Livable Communities, among others. WHO provided critical leadership with its Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC).
What would it take to become a part of this network? First, it requires bringing together interested parties from non-profit organizations, government, community groups, planners and creative individuals of all ages. It might include conducting the AdvantAge Initiative survey and/or collaboration with funders and an established network. This core group would develop a vision that fits Princeton, engage those who need to be involved to achieve key objectives, and ensure sustainability over time.
A group of people from throughout Princeton met in 1996 at Future Search to engage in a similar process around aging issues. Their efforts contributed to the formation of Community Without Walls and the Elderlife Council, the revival of Crosstown transportation, expansion of low-income housing, and several initiatives at PSRC. Nearly 20 years later, it is time to do this again.
If you would like to be involved, let me know. To read the report, go to http://www.who.int/ageing/age_friendly_cities_guide/en/index.html.
Susan W. Hoskins LCSW
June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
June 2013 - Age Friendly Communities
May 2013 - Navigating a Changing HealthCare Landscape
April 2013 - Becoming Visible
March 2013 - Navigating Life’s Transitions
February 2013 - Partners in Caring Princeton
January 2013 - Men as Caregivers
December 2012 - The Safety Net
November 2012 - Going Solo
October 2012 - Documenting Your History
September 2012 - A Journey of Transformation
July - August 2012 - Gratitude & Moving
June 2012 - Diversity
May 2012- Aging in America
APRIL 2012 - TEN YEARS
March 2012 - Patient-centered Care
February 2012 - Can you Spare an Hour?
January 2012 - Challenges & Opportunities
December - Are you Prepared for Emergencies?
November - We need YOU!
October - Chocolate for Memory
September- Looking Back and Looking Forward
July - August 2011; Ageism
June 2011 - Accessibility
May 2011 - Paper retention
Knit Wits, April 2011
Lessons and Legacies, March 2011
Independent Living February 2011
Home Safety January 2011
Witness to my Life December 2010
Elections, benefits and open enrollment November 2010
Retire in 3D!
Am I Old?
Aging In America May 2010
Volunteering April 2010
Spirituality March 2010
Encore Careers January 2010
Hiring Home Care
Annual Giving by
Flu Pandemic 2009 October 2009
Healthy Memory, Healthy Mind
A Personal Perspective on Caregiving
Wei Ji: Crisis, Danger and Opportunity
Write your own obituary
Hope and Vision in Challenging Times
Medicare Changes 2008: Take A Look!
Scams, Frauds and Rip-offs November 2008
Engaged Retirement: Beyond Financial Planning
Finding Rhythm and Purpose
Spring Cleaning II June 2008
V + OA = ER (Volunteering + Older Americans=Engaged Retirement)May 2008
Spring Cleaning April 2008
Have You Had the Talk Yet?
Get Moving with FitRhythms™!
My Condolences January 2008
What Are Social Services? November 2007
Plan for the Future September 2007
The Up-side of Aging Summer 2007
Volunteering June 2007
Strategic Plan May 2007
National Conference on Aging: Let's ReThink Aging April 2007
Brain Health March 2007
Resiliency February 2007
Transportation January 2007
Season of Giving December 2006
Medicare Part D November 2006
April Hill McElroy October 2006
Civic Engagement September 2006
Change June 2006
White House Conference on Aging May 2006
Hearing Loss April 2006
GrandPals March 2006
Lets Talk February 2006
Eldertopia January 2006
Hoarding December 2005
Annual Report: November 2005
Are You Prepared? October 2005
Planning Ahead October 2005
Watch Your Language September 2005
Medicare Part D Summer 2005
Sue Tillett June 2005
The End of the Journey May 2005
Clutter March 2005
New Dietary Guidelines February 2005
Transitions January 2005
Funding December 2004
Caregiving November 2004
Civic Engagement with GrandPals October 2004
A New Look September 2004
Safe Driving Summer 2004
Food Safety June 2004
Communication June 2004
The Challenge of Giving Care May 2004
Seniors On The Move April 2004
Depression March 2004
McGreevey February 2004
Medications January 2004
Random Acts of Kindness December 2003
Civic Engagement November 2003
Reverse Mortgages Oct 2003
Emergency Preparedness, Jan 2003