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Livability For All: The AARP Age-Friendly Community Surveys

A “livable community” is defined as a community that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and offers supportive community features and services. Once in place, those resources enhance personal independence; allow residents to age in place; and foster residents' engagement in the community's civic, economic, and social life. In a livable community, people of all ages can go for a walk, safely cross the street, ride a bike, get around without a car, live comfortably, work or volunteer, enjoy public places, socialize, spend time outdoors, be entertained, go shopping, buy healthy food, find the services they need, and make their city, town, or neighborhood a lifelong home. Across the nation, individuals make connections and commitments to homes, friendships, community organizations, and local social ties within their community and want to age in place.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Age-Friendly Cities and Communities project was created to help cities prepare for the rapid aging of populations and the increase in urbanization. The program targets the environmental, social, and economic factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults. AARP and the WHO are working together with communities across the United States to encourage and promote age-friendly planning and policies that will allow communities to become places where adults can successfully age in place.   

The WHO has identified eight areas that influence the quality of life of those in a community, particularly older adults. The eight areas or domains are: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings; Housing; Transportation; Social Participation; Respect and Social Inclusion; Civic Participation and Employment; Communication and Information; and Community and Health Services. AARP Research developed a survey instrument that captures the WHO eight areas of an age-friendly community in order to help communities: (1) establish a baseline with regard to older adults being able to age in place, and (2) conduct a community needs assessment to identify and prioritize areas of focus. The survey findings reflect individual preferences and help policymakers, planners and others better understand the needs of an aging population in order to begin to brainstorm steps and policies that can be taken to improve livability for all.

For more information, contact Joanne Binette at jbinette@aarp.org

 

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