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All communities participating in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities are required to measure the progress being made against their plans by identifying and monitoring key indicators that reflect the priorities of the community.
As with the initial assessment, it is important to determine which indicators should be used in order to establish baseline data.
An example of some indicators with data sources can be found in the MetLife Mature Market Institute report “Livable Community Indicators for Sustainable Aging in Place” (PDF).
The following list of the eight World Health Organization livability domains includes suggestions for the types of characteristics that can be measured.
1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
A livable community has safe and accessible recreational facilities.
- Access to parks and nature
- Recreational facilities, such as public gyms, YMCAs or similar facilities with appropriate programming
- The number of residents who are engaged in activities
- An increased use of both parks and programming
A livable community has safe and affordable modes of private and public transportation.
- A variety of accessible transportation modes, such as public transit and bike paths
- Affordable transit options
- The availability of specialized transit services
- The availability of safe and secure walking areas
- A reduction in traffic and pedestrian fatalities
- An AARP Complete Streets ordinance is in place and/or the implementation of AARP Complete Streets projects
- Car share and bicycle share programs
A livable community has a wide range of housing options for older residents, the ability to age in place and other home modification programs.
- The availability of affordable and accessible housing in a variety of housing types
- Housing located near transit
- Housing policies that allow for affordable dwelling units (ADUs) or similar options
- The percentage of universally designed units
- Median housing price for ownership or rent
- The number, availability and affordability of assisted living or other types of facilities
- The development of naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) or villages
- The implementation or development of universal design ordinances
(Note: The first three domains can be combined to become a single, overall Built Environment domain.)
4. Social participation
A livable community provides access to leisure and cultural activities, and opportunities for older residents to participate in social and civic activities with their peers as well as with younger people.
- The number of cultural organizations and institutions (museums, theaters, etc.) and the availability of programming
- Financial support through government, non-profit or other types of funding
- Libraries and associated services
- Houses of worship
5. Respect and social inclusion
A livable community promotes ethnic and cultural diversity as well as multigenerational interaction and dialogue.
- Age-friendly businesses that provide access to restrooms, benches or areas for resting
- Caregiver support groups, caregiver respite programs, adult day care programs
- The percentage of age 65+ people who live alone
6. Civic participation and employment
A livable community promotes paid work and volunteer activities for older residents as well as opportunities to engage in the formulation of policies relevant to their lives.
- The level of volunteerism, voting rates, activism and group participation
- Employment opportunities, wage levels, unemployment rates
- Small business development and support
- Community colleges, colleges and/or universities within the community — programming designed for training older adults; access to classes at free or reduced rate
7. Communication and information
A livable community promotes access to technology to keep older residents connected to their community and friends and family.
- The availability and affordability of internet and/or broadband services
- Information sources such as newspapers, governmental agencies (an area agency on aging, an aging and disability resource centers) for services
- Information formats that are age-friendly
- Libraries and programming to support all ages
8. Community support and health services
A livable community provides access to home care services, clinics and programs that promote wellness and active aging.
- Obesity and diabetes rates, physical activities rates
- The number and proximity of hospitals, urgent care facilities, hospice
- Specialists more appropriate for older populations such as physical therapy and orthopedics
- Access to nutritional food sources, Meals on Wheels programs, congregant meal programs, farmers markets
- Health Information technology
- Air pollution and air quality rates
- Prevention tactics that apply to all ages, such as lead poisoning prevention, immunizations, injury prevention education efforts
Other important factors include:
- Cost-of-living rates, per capita income, the percentage of age 65+ people living below the poverty line
- Consumer protections, a general sense of physical safety and security, emergency preparedness
- Crime rates
- General proximity to various services, such as health facilities, retail stores, restaurants, etc.
- Community walk scores
The Tool Kit
Learn how to become a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities:
Learn more about AARP Livable Communities
Age-Friendly Communities Tool Kit Resources
- The Member List
See the current roster of enrolled communities in the United States as well as their action plans and other information
- Preparing the Membership Materials
Find the membership application, sample letters of commitment, resolutions and more
- AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities Program Cycle
Download a visual overview of the program’s steps and elements
- AARP Age-Friendly Resource Guide
A selection of key resources to support age-friendly communities through all stages of the program cycle
- World Health Organization Guide to Age-Friendly Cities
Download this 82-page guide for a deep dive into the program
- Better Together: A Comparative Analysis of Age-Friendly and Dementia Friendly Communities
Read an AARP report and find links to related resources
- Age-Friendly Foundations
These funding organizations are helping make communities more livable
- Evaluating Your Age-Friendly Community Program: A Step-by-Step Guide
Use this resource when you're identifying indicators in your action plan
- Guiding Principles for the Sustainability of Age-Friendly Community Efforts
Learn how to maintain ongoing success