What is the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States & Communities?
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities is the United States affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program, an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for rapid population aging and the parallel trend of urbanization. The program has participating communities in more than 20 nations, as well as 10 affiliates representing more than 1,000 communities.
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities serves as a catalyst to educate, encourage, promote and recognize improvements that make communities supportive for residents of all ages. The network provides cities, towns, counties and states throughout the U.S. with the resources to become more age-friendly by tapping into national and global research, planning models and best practices.
As the population of the United States ages and people live healthier, more active and longer lives, communities must adapt. Well-designed, livable communities promote health and sustain economic growth, and they make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages. As of January 2020, there were over 430 members including the State of Florida and Orlando.
What is the AARP's Role in the Process?
AARP's participation in the program advances efforts to help people live easily and comfortably in their homes and communities as they age. AARP’s presence encourages older adults to take a more active role in their communities and have their voices heard. Initiatives focus on areas such as housing, caregiving, community engagement, volunteering, social inclusion and combating isolation among older citizens.
AARP works with local officials and partner organizations around the country to identify communities for membership in the Age-Friendly Network. AARP facilitates the community's enrollment and guides its representatives through the network’s implementation and assessment process.
Combined with the resources provided by AARP, the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities program supports AARP's goal of being recognized by elected officials and others as a leading resource for how to improve the livability of communities for people age 50+ and their families.
The program emphasizes both the built and the social environment, and helps refine what it means for AARP to have a community presence. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities program is a tool that can be used by AARP staff and others to help local leaders prepare and ultimately change their communities to become great places for everyone to live.
What are the Benefits of Membership?
Members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities become part of a global network of communities that are committed to giving their older residents the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives. The benefits of membership include:
- Access to a global network of participating communities, as well as aging and civil society experts.
- Access to key information about the program, such as the latest news and information about best practices, events, results, challenges and new initiatives.
- Opportunities for partnerships with other cities, both domestic and international.
- Mentoring and peer-review evaluation by member cities.
- Public recognition of the community’s commitment to become more age-friendly.
- Speaking engagements at conferences and events hosted by AARP and promotion through AARP’s media channels.
What are the Components of the Assessment & Action Plan Process?
Members of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities program commit to improving their age-friendliness, as well as a rigorous assessment cycle. Being an age-friendly community requires a commitment to a five-year cycle of continuous improvements.
Year 1: Conduct a Survey and Community Engagement
In order to improve the community for older adults and people of all ages, an age-friendly community needs to assess the communities’ needs. The first step is the age-friendly livability survey that will be augmented by listening sessions. Other community engagement opportunities, including forums and workshops, will be integrated throughout the process.
Year 2: Create an Action Plan
This phase of the process includes four key components.
- The establishment of mechanisms to involve older people throughout the age-friendly community cycle.
- A baseline survey or assessment of the community’s age-friendliness.
- The development of a three-year community-wide action plan based on the assessment.
- The identification of indicators for monitoring progress.
This phase is completed when an action plan is submitted to the World Health Organization for review and endorsement.
Years 3-5: Implementation
Upon endorsement and recommendation to the World Health Organization by AARP, a community begins a three-year period of implementation. At the end of this period the community is required to submit a progress report to AARP outlining its progress against the indicators developed in the action plan.
Year 5+: Progress and a Status Update
At this point a community is able to continue its membership by entering into further planning, implementation and evaluation cycles.
Who will be Guiding the Process?
The Mayor’s Committee on Livability and Healthy Aging has been tasked with providing the city with a guiding hand in the development of Orlando’s first Age-Friendly Action Plan. Committee members include representatives from various community non-profit organizations, businesses, and institutions who are subject area experts in various fields related to aging, including the Senior Resource Alliance (Area Agency on Aging), Senior’s First, Inc., AARP, the Orlando Senior Health Network, Advent Health, and the University of Central Florida, as well as community residents/activists.
More specifically, the committee will provide invaluable input throughout the two-year community engagement and planning process as we assess our community and delve into a series of livability issues including accessibility and functionality of outdoor spaces & buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect & social inclusion, civic participation & employment, communication & information, as well as community & health services, all with a special focus on seniors.
The result of all that work will be an Age-Friendly Action Plan that will provide policy and program recommendations for the Mayor and City Council to consider in addressing the above-mentioned subject areas. The Action Plan will also include recommendations for building and strengthening partnerships as we recognize that city government cannot necessarily do everything by itself – we need our entire community engaged – after all, we are all getting older and we need to take care of each other.