New AARP network to foster age-friendly communities in U.S.

April 6, 2012
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A new AARP pilot program launched in affiliation with the World Health Organization seeks to improve communities’ “user-friendliness” toward older adults in seven states.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities is currently being set up in Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania, with the expectation of expanding into other states in the future, AARP said in a release.

By 2030, 19.7 percent of U.S. residents are projected to be 65 and older, AARP said. The new program aims to provide a system to “educate, encourage, promote, and recognize improvements that make cities, towns, and counties more user-friendly not only for their older residents but for residents of all ages,” according to the release.

Pilot states will identify and support communities that want to improve the physical and social environments for elders to help them remain active and engaged for as long as possible. Member communities in the network will gain access to global resources and information on age-friendly best practices, models of assessment and implementation and the experience of towns and cities and around the world, AARP said.

“As communities become more age-friendly, people of all ages will find them more appealing,” stated Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president.  “Not only older people, but mothers with strollers and ex joggers with knee problems will welcome crosswalks with countdown clocks and mid-crossing safe havens. You shouldn’t have to be a former Olympic sprinter to get across the street before the light changes.”

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