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Optimal Living Action Briefs – 2011 Skip to content

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Optimal Living Action Briefs – 2011


By 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Aging Research Network produced the Environmental and Policy Change for Healthy Aging Initiative to encourage communities to improve infrastructure that will foster healthy aging in place. Four action briefs were developed as part of the initiative to provide guidance for planners, local officials, and policymakers looking to implement healthy aging programs and establish community design that will facilitate aging in place.

Key Points

These four action briefs include promising strategies to support healthy aging, as well as information regarding age-friendly home environments, mobility options, and planning and evaluation framework to help planners ensure communities allow for healthy aging. Case studies are presented in the action briefs of communities that have implemented change to enhance their livability.

Other report highlights include:

  1. Pima County in Tucson, Arizona passed the first local ordinance in the nation to require a zero-step entrance to homes to improve housing accessibility for older adults and persons with disabilities. Other features required in Pima County developments include lever door handles and wide doorways.
  2. Community members in Hendersonville, North Carolina formed a coalition called Walk Wise, Drive Smart to improve walkability in the community. City officials, community members, and local businesses collaborated on this effort to improve the age-friendliness of their community.
  3. Over a decade ago, planners, residents, developers, public health, and public safety officials in Wabasso, Florida started working together to improve flaws in their building environment. In the past ten years many community improvements have been made including new housing to replace unsafe homes, better pedestrian infrastructure, and more opportunities for physical activity.

How to Use

The action briefs provide recommendations and basic information for planners, local officials, and policymakers looking to enhance the livability of their communities. Effective strategies to support healthy aging are also discussed throughout the action briefs, as well as case studies of healthy aging efforts and initiatives across the country. Planners and local officials can use these case studies to gain an understanding of the importance of collaboration among departments to make community improvements and facilitate healthy and successful aging in place.

View full report: Optimal Living: Frameworks to Guide Change – (PDF – 1.1 MB)

Optimal Living: Getting Around (PDF – 1.7 MB)

Optimal Living: Home Environments (PDF – 1.9 MB)

Optimal Living: Promising Strategies ( PDF – 1.0 MB)

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