In June 2016, AARP and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) asked the nation's mayors to complete a 25 question survey in order to, explains Tom Cochran, the USCM's CEO and executive director, "identify what resources, policy changes, and infrastructure developments are needed to make our cities more 'livable,' so that our older residents can choose to live out their lives in their own homes and communities, surrounded by family and friends and a vibrant social and cultural network, for as long as possible."
The USCM is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,393 such cities in the United States, each represented in the conference by its mayor.
The results of the 108-city survey, Preparing for Aging Populations in America's Cities: A Status Report on Aging in America, were released in January 2017 at the 85th Winter Meeting of the USCM in Washington, D.C., as part of the USCM Task Force on Aging.
The number of people in the U.S. age 65 and over is now "somewhere north of 43 million," explains Cochran, adding that in the next four decades the number is reach more than 83 million.
"We know that almost everyone wants to live in a place where they can feel safe, have a good job, raise a family, get around easily, and engage with their community," notes Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president of Community, States and National Affairs. "The responses to this survey reinforce these points and reveal that mayors see several issues as the most important for their increasingly aging populations."
The top needs identified are:
- Easy access to health care and supportive services
- More housing options, affordable housing including accessory dwelling units, and active/assisted living communities
- Accessible and affordable public transportation
- Increased police presence and communication between police and community residents
- Housing located close to stores, transportation, health care facilities and other community services
Says Cochran: "In the end, it turns out, what is best for the quality of life is much the same for our oldest citizens as it is for our youngest and everyone in between. Making cities more livable for our older citizens, ultimately, makes cities more livable for all of us."
Following, some key findings from the survey: