FUTURE OF AGING – Livable Communities For All Ages

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The Future of Aging:  A livable community is a community for people of all ages

BY DANIELLE ARIGONI

As individuals, as families, as a nation … we are all aging. Today, an estimated 45 million Americans are 65 or older. By 2030, 73 million Americans — fully one in five Americans — will be 65-plus. And just a few years later, in 2035, the United States will pass a tipping point when, for the first time ever, the nation’s population will consist of more adults older than 65 than children under 18.

A change of this magnitude will bring challenges, but it will also offer opportunity and promise. Unlike in the past, today’s generations of older adults are disrupting aging by redefining what it means to be in one’s 50s, 60s, 70s and so on. Rather than retiring, older adults are starting businesses, they’re working as high-level volunteers, and they’re driving local decision-making through their involvement and activism.

As the director of AARP Livable Communities, a nationwide, locally-implemented initiative of AARP, I’m seeing how changing demographics and attitudes can make entire communities better — for all people of all ages. I’m seeing how, when older adults are brought to the table to discuss and answer questions (such as, “How can this community be more livable?”), the creative ideas and solutions that emerge provide benefits for everyone.

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Age Friendly Festival – Sarasota, FL.  (Photo courtesy of Age Friendly Sarasota and AARP.)

Working through the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, towns and cities are piloting innovative solutions to, for instance, make “tiny home” communities viable for low-income older adults at risk for homelessness. Neighborhoods are leading projects that beautify the community, grow healthy food and provide opportunities for intergenerational collaboration. Municipalities are making their roadways safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Want to learn how livable your community is compared to others in your region or elsewhere in the country? Visit the AARP Livability Index, enter your zip-code or town name, and then calculate a score showing how your community fares in categories including housing, transportation, community engagement, the environment, health and more.

When communities are livable for people of all ages and life stages, everyone can live their best lives at every age.

Plein-air painting class at Joslin Garden in Raleigh, N.C. (Photo courtesy City of Oaks Foundation and AARP.)

Want to make your community more walkable? Download or order the AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit, gather a few friends and spend some time observing and documenting the pedestrian hazards of your neighborhood’s streets and sidewalks. Have an idea for a great livability project? Work with your municipality or a nonprofit group and apply for an AARP Community Challenge “quick-action” grant.

When communities are livable for people of all ages and life stages, everyone can live their best lives at every age.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR –  DANIELLE ARIGONI

AGINGDanielle Arigoni is an urban planner and the director of AARP Livable Communities. AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that empowers people to choose how they live as they age. Find the nearest AARP state office to where you live by visiting AARP.org/States.

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