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AARP Launches New Network to Foster Age-Friendly Communities

Pilot Programs in Seven States and District of Columbia to Help Communities Create Initiatives to Make Neighborhoods Age-Friendly


April 4, 2012

CONTACT:   Nancy Thompson


AARP Launches New Network to Foster Age-Friendly Communities 

Pilot Programs in Seven States and District of Columbia to Help Communities Create Initiatives to Make Neighborhoods Age-Friendly

WASHINGTON – Today, in affiliation with the World Health Organization (WHO), AARP is launching The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities across the United States.  The goal of this program is to provide a system to educate, encourage, promote, and recognize improvements that make cities, towns, and counties more user-friendly not only for their older residents but for residents of all ages.  In 2012, AARP will pilot the network in seven states (Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Pennsylvania) and the District of Columbia.  AARP expects to expand the network to other states in the future.

 Looking ahead, from now until 2030, all 50 States will see a rapid acceleration in the growth of their elderly populations, as baby boomers turn 65.  To put it in perspective, the “oldest” city in America today is Scottsdale City, Arizona. One in five of their residents -- 20 percent -- is 65 and older. By 2030 the entire United States will look like today’s “oldest” city as 19.7 percent of residents will be 65 and older. With the Network of Age-Friendly Communities, AARP will help government officials, business and community leaders jump start their efforts to make their neighborhoods ready for this new generation of aging boomers.   

The pilot states in AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities will identify and support communities in their states that want to improve the physical and social environments of the city or town’s elders and help them remain healthy, active, and engaged in their communities for as long as possible.  The network is affiliated with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities®, an international effort to get cities and towns prepared for two significant ongoing trends: rapid population aging and increasing urbanization. As part of the AARP and WHO networks, member communities will gain access to global resources and information on age-friendly best practices, models of assessment and implementation, and the experience of towns and cities and around the world.

“As communities become more age-friendly, people of all ages will find them more appealing,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.  “Not only older people, but mothers with strollers and ex joggers with knee problems will welcome crosswalks with countdown clocks and mid-crossing safe havens.  You shouldn’t have to be a former Olympic sprinter to get across the street before the light changes.”

Portland, OR, was named America’s first Age-Friendly City by the WHO in 2008.  New York followed in 2010.  With that distinction they joined more than 50 cities around the world that have implemented user-friendly changes based on ideas and suggestions raised in discussions with older adults about their daily lives.  In interviews with more than 2,000 older New Yorkers and hundreds of experts about the opportunities of aging in New York, the city identified its age-friendly strengths and shortcomings.  Since then, it already has responded with 59 initiatives to make New York still more user-friendly for older people including longer street crossing times, a new emergency alert system for missing older adults, taxi vouchers for certain eligible New Yorkers and time banking – a currency system of volunteer hours.  Most recently, Des Moines, IA, and Philadelphia, with strong support from AARP state offices, have joined the WHO Network.

“AARP has worked for years to promote more livable communities for people 50 and older across the United States, including improving housing and mobility/transportation options that are appropriate for an aging population,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.  AARP is committed to making a difference at the community level and to helping our members -- and all those 50 and older -- age comfortably and successfully in the communities where they live.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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