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Macon-Bibb, Georgia, Takes Age-Friendly Action

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities member issues its first Age-Friendly Community Action Plan

Macon-Bibb was among the first communities to become a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities when it joined in the spring of 2012. Macon-Bibb was the first community in Georgia to be designated age-friendly and it was the first community in Georgia to join as a combined city and county government. (Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the two governments consolidated into one.)

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Macon-Bibb County is about an hour southeast of Atlanta. The community contains both a metropolitan area (the City of Macon) and outlying, more rural neighborhoods. The contrast between the two is often an attribute that older adults find attractive, as they often require the abundance of services that can be found in a large city but desire the quaintness of a small town.

The Macon-Bibb community is both more diverse and less economically well-off than the state of Georgia as a whole. In 2012, citizens age 60 years and older made up approximately 19 percent of the Macon-Bibb population (which, according to the 2010 Census, consists of 155,547 people, 91,348 of whom are located within the city limits of Macon).

Macon-Bibb's age-friendly action plan (which can be downloaded at right) was developed by a 28-member Community Advisory Council,  which identified areas of concern and potential improvment in each of the eight domains of livability established by the World Health Organization.

KEY POINTS

Following are among Macon-Bibb's findings and action plan recommendations.

  • Review locations for either building or reconstructing an existing vacant building for use as a new senior center. Ensure that the new senior center location is accessible by public transportation and includes programming of interest to all segments of the Macon-Bibb community.

  • Conduct a transit/sidewalk study to determine pedestrian use and the need for sidewalk placement, as well as crosswalks and signals.

  • Collaborate with developers of new construction and renovation projects to encourage the use of universal design that will improve accessibility for seniors.

  • Sponsor an annual CarFit vehicle safety event to reinforce car maintenance basics with seniors and review whether or not a person's car is appropriately fitted to their physical abilities and needs.

  • Help age 50-plus people write and publish their life stories/experiences to enlighten others.

HOW TO USE

While the entire document is 316 pages long, the heart of the Macon-Bibb action plan resides in a section called "Age-Friendly Goals and Action Items," which runs from pages 18 to 47.

Starting on page 11 the report recaps Macon-Bibb's age-friendly efforts and events from 2012 and 2013. After the action items the remaining pages consist of seven appendices that contain such items as the community's orginal resolutions as well as its Active Living Workshop report from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, a health assessment report and an emergency action plan.

Among the most useful of these added documents is "Appendix D: Evaluation Process and Age-Friendly Work Plan." Organized in a table format with columns that clearly identify the domain, goal, measures, indicators and status dates, the plan as well as its presentation is a useful resource for like-minded communities.

Report published: December 2013  
Summary by Melissa Stanton, AARP

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