By Mike Festa, State Director, AARP Massachusetts
Governor Charlie Baker has announced that Massachusetts has joined the network of AARP Age-Friendly States and the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. We thank Governor Baker for his leadership on this issue of importance to Bay State residents of all ages.
Massachusetts is only the second state in the nation to take such action after New York enrolled with AARP to become an age friendly state in 2017.
AARP’s Age-Friendly Network asks for commitment from state-elected leadership to work actively toward making the state a great place to live for people of all ages.
Last year, Governor Baker established the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, which focuses on promoting healthy aging in Massachusetts and achieving the goal of making the commonwealth the most age-friendly state for people of all ages. The Governor’s Council brings together leaders from the aging, business, government, nonprofit, technology, education, transportation, housing and healthcare sectors to advise the Baker Administration on innovative policies and best practices to support and engage older residents.
Adults aged 60 and over are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and will make up 23 percent of the commonwealth’s population by 2035.
AARP enthusiastically supports Governor Baker’s initiative to make Massachusetts an Age-Friendly state. We thank Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging for their efforts in embracing the age-friendly movement in Massachusetts. We also thank James Fuccione, senior director of the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, Nora Moreno Cargie of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Dave Stevens of the Massachusetts Councils on Aging, and Len Fishman and Jan Mutchler of the UMass Boston Gerontology Institute.
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities helps participating states become great places by adopting such features as walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities. Well-designed, livable communities help sustain economic growth and make for happier, healthier residents – of all ages. The AARP Age-Friendly Network is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for their own and the world’s growing population of older adults and the parallel trend of urbanization.
The eight Age-Friendly/Livable Community domains outlined by WHO and AARP are:
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
- Social participation
- Respect and social inclusion
- Work and civic engagement
- Communication and information, and
- Community and health services.
AARP’s participation in the age-friendly network advances the association’s efforts to help people live easily and comfortably in their homes and communities as they age. AARP surveys show that nearly 90 percent of the 50+ population want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, where they have strong social networks and a sense of familiarity.
AARP encourages older adults to take an active role in their communities’ plans and ensures that their voices are heard. Related initiatives focus on areas such as housing, caregiving, community engagement, volunteering, social inclusion and combating isolation among older people.
For more information, visit aarp.org/livable