“Livable Communities” are those that have programs and services in place that can serve all ages, and specifically meet the needs of their older residents. Unfortunately, thanks to the Great Recession, cities and communities have made not much progress towards becoming more “livable” since 2005. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), in a coalition with organizations including the American Planning Association, National Association of Counties, ICMA, and the MetLife Foundation, conducted a national survey among local government officials to determine activities across ten areas that help make communities more livable for all ages. This indispensible report provides community planners with specific action steps and guidelines for increasing livability for their own locality.
With over 10,000 respondents from communities of 2,500 and larger, the study did uncover pockets of progress on making communities more livable. However, the overwhelming majority of communities have had to put off addressing livable community issues due to budget reductions and financial limitations.”
While little progress has been made overall, the report notes three areas with some progress:
- “Specialized training” for those in public safety and emergency response on how to work with older adults increased from 24 percent of the communities to 59 percent.
- Programs supporting “participation in local educational opportunities” rose from 45 percent to 52 percent of the respondents. Older adults in many communities want to remain active in the workforce. By offering educational resources and training via local libraries, for example, communities can help older adults remain employed.
- More communities are viewing older adults as a volunteer resource. Opportunities for involvement increased from 66 percent to 80 percent in five years.
The report has specific action steps to take in ten important areas relating to “livable communities. A tremendous improvement can be made by advancing in just one of the ten areas: healthcare, nutrition, exercise, transportation, public safety/emergency, housing, taxation/finance, workforce development, community/civic engagement, or aging/human services.
How to Use
This should be the first report community planners and local government officials use as a guide for creating livable communities. The benchmarks and suggested activities and strategies set forth by this report are all viable, depending on the community. Examples of specific efforts provide “best practices” worth noting. The goal is to improve communities for older adults, with benefits for everyone of all ages.