What is an Age-Friendly Community?

We’ve been talking a lot about this in the Community Forums being held throughout Door County this month so let’s take a look at it.

The Age Friendly initiative was developed by the World Health Organization and adopted by AARP to provide a framework for communities to identify and address barriers to the well-being and participation of older adults. An Age-Friendly Community is a place that adapts its services and physical structures in order to improve the quality of life of residents as they age. That being said, people of all ages benefit from policies and programs that make neighborhoods walkable, has transportation options, provides access to key services, offers opportunities to participate in community activities, and supports housing that’s affordable and adaptable.

The framework is centered around eight “domains” that take a look at the community and evaluate how age-friendly it is. These are:

  1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Respect and social inclusion
  5. Social participation
  6. Civic participation and employment opportunities
  7. Communication and information
  8. Community support and health services

The details of how each of the themes are measured in order to qualify a community as age-friendly can be found at the AARP site.

Rural areas like Door County (yes, Door County is considered rural although it doesn’t always feel like it in the summer) can find it challenging to do the things to be age-friendly for a number of reasons. A couple of these reasons are that the opportunities for seniors to stay active, be healthy, and engage in the community can be difficult simply because of the distance between people, and rural communities have limited tax revenue to use towards infrastructure concerns. But it’s been done and done well in other places so take heart! As with all good community things, it needs all hands on deck. It takes commitment by the communities’ residents, civic leaders and local organizations. If you are interested in being a part of this, contact us. We are ready to make Door County a place where we can all age with ease!