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No Place Like Home: AARP's View on Livable Communities

  • Mobility is essential to independent living. It gives people the feeling that they have control over their lives. A truly livable community must provide as much mobility to older persons as possible, and it must offer real options that meet individual needs.
  • Nearly three quarters of people between the ages of 50 and 74 rely mostly on driving. But that figure drops significantly after the age of 75. And many of those non-drivers say they face severe restrictions on their daily activities. In fact, they were six times as likely to miss doing something they would have liked to do because they did not have the transportation.
  • Livable Communities should make life more comfortable and convenient for the active and able as well as those with disabilities. They should offer adequate, smooth, wide sidewalks and well-marked crosswalks. They should make bike riders feel welcome with bike lanes and bike paths. And livable communities should make it easy for those in wheelchairs to navigate curbs and give them adequate time to get across the street.

What Some are Already Doing

  • In Los Angeles and in Portland, Oregon, microwave technology is being used to detect when a pedestrian is moving more slowly across an intersection; the detector automatically extends the "Walk" signal for several more seconds to allow for safe crossing.
  • Downtown Holland, Michigan, not only has heated sidewalks to make walking safer during the icy winter months; it is also the first community in the nation to propose wiring most churches, public facilities, businesses and homes to deliver broadcast signals to individuals with certain kinds of hearing aids.
  • The Friendship Heights, Maryland community has been recognized for its disability access and its park renovations to upgrade lighting and eliminate tripping hazards. There's also a partnership with nearby Suburban Hospital that includes free weekly blood pressure checks and periodic health screenings.

What AARP is Doing

  • Right now AARP is engaged in a national dialogue about how to plan for successful aging. We're talking to city planners and community developers. We're talking to home builders and legislators, decision makers and service providers. We're encouraging people to transform their present communities into livable communities.
  • We're talking about transforming communities so people can age in place, so they can continue to lead active lives, so they can continue to have independence and freedom, so they can continue to feel connected and be of service to others.

To Succeed - We Need to Change Our Thinking

  • Perhaps the greatest challenge we face to creating livable communities is not a simple one to overcome. It's not just a matter of a little more innovation here and a little more money there. What's required is a wholesale overhaul in the way we think about our homes and our environment.
  • We can afford our aging baby boomers, and we'll all benefit from a society in which the wisdom, time, and efforts of our older citizens continue to be a vital part of our lives.
  • Policymakers and the decisions they make are largely a reflection of prevailing social attitudes. We're all responsible for thinking about these issues and adapting our lifestyles accordingly. We all need to be thinking in terms of how things should be and can be if we act now.

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