As the U.S. population ages and people stay healthy and active longer, communities must work to adapt. AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities is a comprehensive approach to helping us prepare for aging communities. The goal of Age Friendly Communities is to increase the number of communities that support healthy aging, which will improve the health, well-being, satisfaction and quality of life for older Americans.
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities is an 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. The program has participating communities in more than 20 nations, as well as 10 affiliates representing more than 1,000 communities.
Cities, towns and other localities in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities program commit to improving their age-friendliness and submit to rigorous membership requirements. Age Friendly Communities must commit to a continual cycle of improvement in the eight domains the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified as the eight domains of livability that includes:
1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
4. Social participation
5. Respect and social inclusion
6. Civic participation and employment
7. Communication and information
8. Community support and health services
AARP South Carolina is currently working with the City of Columbia to get a commitment to move forward on an Age Friendly City designation. Columbia would be the first city in South Carolina to seek this designation. Once enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, a community has two years to develop an action plan. The action plan is based on assessments that are conducted within the community to identify needs within the eight domains.
AARP also has a great resource for communities called the Livability Index. The Livability Index scores communities across the U.S. for the services and amenities that impact your life most including housing, transportation and neighborhoods.