Well, not just yet. But we’re happy to report that this may soon be changing. As of today, AARP has certified New York, Massachusetts, and Colorado as the first states to be designated as “Age-Friendly.” But several others, among them North Carolina and Pennsylvania will be next in line to be granted favorable age status, according to Forbes Magazine and nextavenue.org, one of our leading “Aging in Place” publications.
We’re excited about this certification program. It’s no secret that the over-65 population is exploding and their political strength is also growing. State governors and legislatures are responding by passing new programs and policies aimed at this powerful voting constituency.
AARP, perhaps the largest and most influential organization representing seniors, wants to accelerate this trend. Several years ago, it started a program to push state, and local community policies in an age-friendly direction. As Danielle Arigoni, AARP’s head of livable communities, said at a recent aging conference in Boston, “we are getting states to make a commitment to grow in age-friendly ways by adopting policies and programs tailored to the needs of their specific senior population.”
What’s their approach? AARP’s pathway to certification starts with a state’s commitment to carry out assessments and surveys. This translates to action plans and implementation. There’s a lot of built-in flexibility; AARP is willing to bend, recognizing that each state should develop unique programs that fit their local needs.
AARP looks at age-friendliness in several ways. Do states and communities provide sufficient and accessible outdoor spaces and buildings for people to gather and enjoy. Is there adequate public transportation that can get non-drivers to shopping areas and medical care? Senior housing, and particularly age in place housing is a high priority in the AARP assessment as is making sure there are widely available community and health services for seniors.
After a state completes its assessment and survey work, the “Age-Friendly” program offers various options and examples for developing plans and programs. States are then asked to implement their action plan. AARP follows up by requiring each state to submit progress reports that measure success. Importantly, this evaluation is an ongoing process with feedback leading to continuous improvement. States are encouraged to keep moving forward with new plans and programs to serve their senior communities.
Those states already onboard are enthusiastic about their involvement with AARP. The governor of New York, for example, just issued an executive order directing all state agencies to take action to improve the health and well-being New Yorkers across their lifespan. Massachusetts has formed a Governor’s Council to address aging in the State, and its governor has declared that he embraces the opportunity to promote and celebrate aging and make the Commonwealth an age-friendly state for all its citizens. His new governor’s council is bringing together leaders from the aging, business, transportation housing, and health care areas to help develop best policies and practices to support the state’s older residents.
States are not the only targets of AARP’s ambitious program. Communities can also join the program, and to date, more than 315 of them already have. AARP estimates that over 75 million Americans already live in Age-Friendly local communities and that number is steadily growing. North Carolina is one of many states that have very active AARP community programs. In fact, this year, Charlotte was the site of AARPS Livable Communities National Conference, which brought together over 500 government and community leaders to advance the goals of AARP’S Age Friendly State and community program.
Sadler Construction supports North Carolina’s age-friendly programs and strongly encourage our local community leaders to get on board. We are doing our part. We have been building age friendly homes and remodels for over 14 years. Building now for what the future holds just makes sense, and cents. The savings can be staggering. Contact us and find out how you can make your house “future ready.”