"To make our community the best place to live and work for everyone," is the aim of Age-Friendly Augusta, Georgia. A member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities since January 2014, Augusta is the third largest city in Georgia.
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An advisory council of more than 40 community members, including private and public sector leaders, developed a community action plan that lays out steps for realizing the vision for the city. The plan focuses on the eight domains of livability that impact the quality of life for older adults. These domains, or features, include: transportation; housing; outdoor spaces and buildings; social participation and diverse inclusion (this domain represents a combination of two domains—respect and social inclusion and social participation); civic participation and employment; communication and information; and community support and health services.
The council's early efforts to benchmark Augusta's age-friendliness included conducting a walkability survey, an in-depth review of Livability Scores by domain area, and a community-wide assessment, among other research. As part of developing the action plan, each area was assigned a domain leader who led a team in documenting recommendations for each topic. These leaders will play a critical role in moving the plan forward and keeping it updated.
The report includes an assessment of the present status of each domain and action items for advancing goals for the domains. A timeline for action items as well as a list of partners who will help to implement these tasks over the next three years is included as a work plan.
(The full 58-page report can be downloaded from the sidebar box.)
KEY POINTS: AUGUSTA RESIDENTS
- The U.S. Census (2012) notes that Augusta has a population 197,872, which is expected to grow to a projected 220,069 by 2030
- Between 2015 and 2030, the city's population of people age 65 and older will increase by more than 36 percent
- The average annual pay in Augusta-Richmond County is $33,116, and the county typically ranks in the top 10 counties in Georgia for personal income, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics
- The county's population is more than 50 percent African-American, approximately 44 percent white and 2 percent Hispanic
- The unemployment rate in Augusta was 7.0 in 2014 and 6.3 in 2015, which is higher than the United States' overall rate of 5.5 and 4.8 in those years
KEY POINTS: REPORT HIGHLIGHTS
Following are of some of the plan's action items and resolutions.
- Improve street walkability by working with city planners and commissioners to adopt Complete Streets policies for the city
- Protect bus riders by repairing existing bus shelters and building new ones
- Establish "age-friendly parks" to increase the availability of green spaces for older adults
- Begin an outdoor exercise pilot project specifically designed to help older adults remain active and healthy
- Reduce the waiting list for senior and disabled public housing by building additional units
- Review and improve city housing policies related to design, cost and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations
- Add two new community centers that provide programs for adults age 50 and older
- Increase employers' awareness of workers age 50+ through public service announcements, an expo that promotes hiring older workers, and a social media registry for older adults who are seeking work
- Provide technology workshops and training for adults over age 50
- Conduct focus group discussions with older residents to learn about their greatest concerns and recommendations for improving health care and access to services
HOW TO USE
The report provides information for residents, community businesses, city planners, and others interested in the age-friendliness of Augusta.
An executive summary of the report begins on page 3, and a profile of Augusta that includes demographic trends and geographic details is available on pages 10 through 12.
The core of the report includes an overview of the seven domains (starting on page 24); for each domain, the report details goals, current status, and an action plan with specific action items and progress measures. A timeline or work plan for implementing the recommended actions for each domain appears on pages 54 and 55.
Altough the plan was written to cover work to be done over five years, it is a living document that will be updated and reviewed annually to measure progress.
Report published December 2015. Summary by Jessica Ludwig