New York was first, then Massachusetts. Colorado came next followed by Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey and California. Each governor made the decision to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.
California joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities in June 2021. The enrollment is a result of Governor Gavin Newsom's 2019 directive to convene a cabinet-level Work Group for Aging and develop a state Master Plan for Aging. The plan outlines five goals and 23 strategies to build a California for All Ages by 2030.
“California has the nation’s largest and most diverse aging population," said Newsom. "We must tap into those talents and address the critical needs, so all Californians can have healthy and happy older years — especially those at greater risk of isolation, abuse, or homelessness,. We are committed to creating a California for all ages where everyone has the ability to live and thrive in the community they choose.”
“By 2030, 10.8 million Californians will be age 60 or over," stated Nancy McPherson, AARP California State Director. "That means older adults will make up one quarter of the state’s population, nearly double the number 10 years ago — a growth rate larger than any other age group. The cost of being unprepared for this shift is unaffordable and untenable."
Text published June 2021
In September 2018, Governor John Hickenlooper became the third governor to enroll his state in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.
The Lifelong Colorado initiative builds upon prior work by the state to convene an age-friendly task force and establish a dedicated senior advisor on aging position in the governor’s office. The initiative expands the reach of approaches that have been piloted through the Boomer Bond, which supported 17 communities in their preparations for an aging population and is is led by the Denver Regional Council of Governments (commonly referred to as “Dr. Cog”).
As part of its application to join the network, the state committed to better coordinate the use of $2 billion across seven state government departments that impact older adults, to convene a statewide age-friendly summit in 2019, and to increase by 100 the number of communities joining the network by 2023.
Colorado has made use of AARP Livable Communities resources in support of housing and transportation priorities. Consultations with the organization Transportation for America developed into a rural transportation conference that resulted in a more comprehensive view by Colorado Department of Transportation staff about how to better meet the transportation needs of transit dependent rural residents.
In November 2018, the AARP Colorado state office hosted the founders of the architectural and design-build firms Opticos Design and Orange Splot to discuss housing issues including the lack of affordable housing, which has become a statewide crisis that could result in a population loss.
Text updated December 2018
In April 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Florida — a state with more than 5.5 million people age 60-plus — would join be joining the AARP age-friendly network. In doing so, the state brings together the work of several agencies, including the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA), and the Florida State Department of Transportation.
The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health have signed on to work with the Florida Department of Health. In addition, AARP Florida and DOEA intend to cohost an annual age-friendly sharing symposium, providing an opportunity or statewide partners to share resources and build relationships.
“Coordinating and aligning age-friendly efforts into a statewide movement represents the natural progression of grassroots work that started over 20 years ago to help foster an environment that positively impacts the health and well-being of older adults," said DeSantis in the state’s network application. "We will promote and build on the age-friendly initiatives of the 24 Florida communities which have already earned the Age-Friendly designation, honor the diversity of communities across Florida, and ensure that the Age-Friendly designation is community-initiated, community-driven, and community-owned.”
Published April 2019
In January 2018, Governor Charlie Baker announced that the Commonwealth would join the network, building on the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts.
Continuing its collaborative history with the Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs, the Tufts Health Plan Foundation is a major partner in the initiative. As part of its work, collectively known as the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, the state committed to developing local best practices for community engagement and expanding its “Community Compact” initiative to include cities and towns that implement at least one age- or dementia-friendly best practice at the local level.
- Massachusetts Signs On as a Member
- ReiMAgine Aging: Planning Together to Create an Age-Friendly Future for Massachusetts
- AARP Massachusetts
Published January 2018
Joining the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities on October 29, 2019, Maine’s statewide enrollment underscores years of age-friendly work at the local level. (More than 65 Maine communities are already enrolled in the network.)
Governor Janet T. Mills announced the enrollment in collaboration with several local partners and the state’s departments of health and human services, transportation, labor, housing, and agriculture and conservation.
“Creating age-friendly, livable communities with walkable streets, safe and affordable housing, transportation and access to services will ensure that Maine people of all ages contribute to our state while living with dignity and comfort in the homes and communities they love,” said Governor Mills. “With this designation, Maine now has access to critical data, technical advice, best practices and organizing tools to help us plan for the future in a thoughtful way and learn from a global network of partners to better serve older Mainers.”
Released in February 2021, Maine's statewide age-friendly action plan — called Age Friendly Maine: Connecting Across Generations — resulted from a collaboration between Maine's Office of Aging and Disability Services, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and Public Allies, a national organization dedicated to advancing social justice.
Two statewide committees created Maine-focused domains, identified and highlighted organizations already doing important work in the age-friendly arena, and drafted domain-specific goals (referred to as Strategic Objectives) to guide the work forward. Throughout the action plan are themes that crosscut all sections, particularly the concepts of respect, equity, social inclusion and volunteerism, which are efforts Maine is including and applying to all areas of livability.
At its heart the action plan focuses on helping older Mainers to remain independent and in their homes and communities by:
- promoting support services
- strengthening healthy aging through new partnerships around evidence based programs
- developing creative and integrated methods of transportation and communications to reduce social isolation
- increasing access to goods and services
- promoting infrastructure improvements
- building and maintaining safe and affordable housing options.
The plan also calls for healthy aging efforts to recognize that Mainers of all ages should be valued, given the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways, and have equal access to resources, events and opportunities.
Published November 2019, updated March 2021
Citing the fact that Michigan’s population is aging at a rate faster than in the nation at-large, with the number of Michiganders age 60 or older growing by 50,000 each year, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer enrolled her state in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities on October 7, 2019.
By doing so, Michigan will leverage funds and activities already underway through the State Advisory Council on Aging, the Michigan Mobility Challenge (that’s led by the Michigan Department of Transportation) and a Communities for a Lifetime program. Efforts will also focus on opportunities that are presented through a statewide approach for enhancing the health of older Michigan residents.
Published October 2019
In preparation for New Jersey joining the network, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 227 on March 2, 2021, creating the Age-Friendly State Advisory Council, which will work to identify opportunities for creating livable communities for people of all ages in New Jersey, recommend best practices for age-friendly work and promote community inclusion.
As part of the effort, the state's Human Services’ Division on Aging Services will focus on providing older adults with a coordinated and seamless system of services across a range of areas that affect their lives. The division will partner with other state departments and community stakeholders such as mayors to develop a long-term plan to promote healthy aging throughout New Jersey.
“This is especially timely given the exacerbating impact COVID-19 has had on older adults and others who had already been experiencing social isolation, housing insecurity and transportation challenges,” Division of Aging Services Director Louise Rush said. “We’re excited to receive this designation and look forward to turning this concept into reality, for the benefit of older adults — and communities themselves — throughout New Jersey.”
Before the end of 2022 the state will issue a blueprint of best practices for advancing age-friendly practices in transportation, housing, inclusivity and community support and health services.
Published May 2021
In December 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York's enrollment in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, bringing together the state’s "Health Across All Policies" prevention initiative, led by the New York State Department of Health, and the “Livable New York" agenda,” which is led by the state's Office for the Aging and Department of State.
The health agenda is focused on reducing health disparities and improving the health of all New Yorkers in five priority areas (obesity, diabetes, environmental health, mental health). The livability initiative provides technical assistance and support to communities seeking to implement Smart Growth policies and programs.
Soon after joining the network, the state announced a public/private partnership for implementing the program, pairing the New York agencies with the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York and the New York Academy of Medicine. Using $1 million in state funding and as well as private investments the program will provide grant funding to one community in each of the state’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils.
New York developed its statewide action plan — released in March 2021 and titled Age-Friendly New York State — through a coordinated effort spearheaded by New York's Department of State, State Office on Aging, and Department of Health, building off the New York State Prevention Agenda and Health Across All Policies initiative.
The initiative also incorporated input from the New York State Energy, Research and Development Agency; the Deputy State Secretary for the Environment; the State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Department; the State Office of Mental Health; Office of General Services; Office of Addiction Services and Supports; Department of Agriculture and Markets; and Department of Environmental Conservation.
The plan centers on the idea that state government, through its leadership and by setting an example through action, can create an integrated process from the top down and from the grassroots to create an environment, backed by data, to advance and embed age-friendly and livable community principles into state and local government work. The age-friendly work has a broad focus and has already enjoyed successes in promoting economic development, expanding transit-oriented development and affordable housing options, and mitigating environmental impacts on older adults.
Published January 2018, updated March 2021
U.S. Virgin Islands
In May 2019, Governor Albert Bryan announced the U.S. Virgin Islands' enrollment in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.
An existing yet inactive Commission on Aging has been reactivated as the Age-Friendly Commission and is being based within the governor's office. First Lady Yolanda Bryan is serving as the spokesperson for the age-friendly initiative. AARP is bringing together local nonprofits that are working on hurricane recovery and resilience to collaborate on and inform a Virgin Islands' age-friendly action plan.
Published May 2019
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