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The Chemung County Age-Friendly Action Plan

An upstate New York county, its city (Elmira) and two of its towns (Elmira and Big Flats) aim to improve the health and well-being of a region's residents

Ron Rehner, Elmira, N.Y., AARP Livable Communities, Age-Friendly New York

Brett Carlsen

Ron Rehner helps distribute food at the Food Bank of the Southern Tier in Elmira, N.Y., March 23, 2017. The retired 80-year-old former school teacher volunteers in New York's southern tier region. In 2012 Chemung County became the first upstate New York community admitted to the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities.

In 2012 Chemung County became the first upstate New York community admitted to the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities.

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Following an initial phase of consultation with the community, Chemung County’s Age-Friendly Community Planning Committee and the Department of Aging and Long Term Care Advisory Council released an action plan that addresses the unique needs of the county, including the towns of Elmira and Big Flats and the city of Elmira, each of which have also joined the network.

A result of extensive collaboration among community groups and stakeholders (ncluding educational, faith-based, private, public and nonprofit organizations), the Chemung County action plan details 35 key initiatives to be implemented over three years, from 2015 to 2017.

For each initiative, the plan identifies an implementation deadline, the groups and organizations that will move the project forward, a facilitator and performance indicators.

Specifically, the plan evaluates how the eight domains of livability identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) impact the quality-of-life of local residents. The initiative count per domain: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings (6), Transportation (5), Housing (5), Social Participation (3), Respect and Social Inclusion (4), Civic Participation and Employment (4), Communication and Information (3), Community Support and Health Services (5).

Key Points

The plan document spells out the following efforts:

  • Focused promotional campaigns highlighting how the Department of Aging and Long Term Care and the Age-Friendly Community initiative will be launched to increase awareness of Chemung County’s community resources.
  • Since several economic factors within the community have contributed to an increase in abandoned buildings and a strain on local government resources, the accessibility and safety of public buildings, spaces and neighborhoods will be improved.

  • Programs will help older adults drive safely and provide safe and cost-effective options for nondrivers.

  • Since 78 percent of Chemung County householders over the age of 60 own their homes, and 70 percent of the people in that group do not have a mortgage, home modification and rehabilitation programs will help residents remain in their homes.

  • Because social isolation is a growing problem among older people, Chemung County will work to increase awareness of the community’s age-friendly cultural and social programs.

  • Caregiver respite and programs that help older adults mentor and tutor will be developed as will strengthened health care delivery systems and health and wellness programs that promote active aging.

How to Use

Chemung County is creating an Age-Friendly Community Coalition to oversee the plan’s implementation, evaluation and revision. The coalition will refine performance indicators for each initiative, with the goal of using them as the foundation for a report that will be completed at the end of the implementation period.

Similar communities seeking to identify and plan for its residents' needs can look to the Chemung County plan for ideas. For questions, contact the Chemung County Department of Aging and Long Term Care at 609-737-5520 or by email at ofa@co.chemung.ny.us.