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Growing Smarter, Living Healthier: A Guide to Smart Growth and Active Aging


Smart Growth principles improve the community, environment, economy, and overall public health. Age-friendly communities incorporate Smart Growth principles and Active Aging concepts in planning efforts to enhance livability for residents of all ages and make aging in place a viable option for older adults in the community. The Environmental Protection Agency created this guidebook as part of its Aging Initiative to emphasize the importance of establishing age-friendly communities.

Key Points

The guidebook discusses the basic principles of neighborhood and community design that foster aging in place and improve community livability. Age-friendly communities allow older adults to stay active, stay connected, and stay engaged with their community as they age. The guidebook provides specific examples of improvements communities can make to assure their age-friendliness, such as creating neighborhood ‘meet ups’ that are within walking distance of homes. These ‘meet up’ areas include a combination of parks, town squares, and commercial business locations. Examples of age-friendly areas that have improved their housing, transportation, and mobility features are discussed throughout the guidebook.

Age-friendly community examples include:

  1. Silver Sage Village: This 50+ cohousing community project in Boulder, CO was awarded Best of Senior Living from the National Association of Home Builders.
  2. Complete Streets Ordinance: This program in Kirkland, WA was created by the Kirkland Senior Council and the Active Living Task Force to improve street safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers by incorporating wider sidewalks, in-street bike lanes, and pedestrian-friendly medians.

This guidebook is a useful resource for communities looking for ways to become more age-friendly, thus more livable for all residents, especially older adults.

How to Use

Planners, local officials, and older adults can use this guidebook to better understand the importance of age-friendly community features in housing, development, transportation and mobility to support healthy aging in place. Local officials, community leaders, and planners should use the community self-assessment provided at the end of this guidebook to understand what is required of communities to achieve Smart Growth and Active Aging.

View full report: Growing Smarter, Living Healthier: A Guide to Smart Growth and Active Aging (PDF – 2.4 MB)

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