Two Puget Sound Cities are part of a growing world-wide movement to create communities that are great places to grow up and grow old. Seattle was recently welcomed to the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities. The city became the 104th community in the U.S. to sign on to the network, and the second in Washington state—following Puyallup, which became Washington’s first age-friendly city in March 2016.
I love what Aging and Disability Services director Maureen Linehan says about the initiative: “One of the many benefits of this effort will be to educate younger people about what it means to grow old and counter common misconceptions. By engaging all ages in this work, we will all benefit from the positive contributions by older adults in our communities.”
Age-Friendly Communities is a framework developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the environmental, economic and social factors influencing the health and well-being of older adults. AARP has partnered with WHO to support U.S. communities in joining the global network and in creating livable communities for all ages. Currently, the network includes 302 cities and communities in 33 countries, covering over 118 million people worldwide. Nationwide, over 117 cities, counties and towns have joined the network, with more signing on every day.
By joining the network, local leaders in Seattle and Puyallup have committed to improvements in eight areas that influence health and quality of life for older adults:
Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
Safe and accessible places to gather, indoors and out.
Accessible and affordable, for all life stages.
Travel options that safely support multiple modes.
Social and recreation options for all age groups and incomes.
Respect and Social Inclusion
All generations are respected members of the community.
Civic Participation and Employment
Meaningful paid or volunteer work is offered to older adults and economic security is within reach.
Communication and Information
Resources, benefits, and services are accessible to the older adults who may need them.
Community Support and Health Services
Healthy aging is encouraged through programs and support.
Over the next five years, both Seattle and Puyallup will engage in a continuous improvement process to make their communities better places for people of all ages to live, work and play. This process includes: assessing gaps and identifying opportunities for improvement; developing and implementing an action plan; and evaluating progress.
Seattle’s age-friendly initiative is guided by a taskforce of community partners including Sound Generations, Aging Wisdom, Feet First, Seattle Housing Authority, Horizon House, ChangingAging.org and NW Center for Creative Aging. Puyallup’s initiative is a grassroots-driven effort which builds on the city’s earlier participation in the Robert Wood Johnson AdvantAge Initiative.
We are thrilled that Seattle and Puyallup are leading our region in promoting livable communities. We hope their efforts inspire other communities. To learn more about how your community can join this growing movement, visit AARP.org/agefriendly.
Contributor Molly Holmes is the chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. Molly welcomes input from readers via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
The Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meets monthly, except January and October, and holds periodic forums. Following are upcoming events:
- South King County Age Wave Candidates Forum: Tuesday, October 4, 2016 (10:00 a.m.–12:00 noon) at the Auburn Community Center & the REC Teen Center at Les Gove Park (910 9th Street SE, Auburn). Flyer | RSVP Auburn
- East King County Age Wave Candidates Forum: Monday, October 10, 2016 (1:30–3:30 p.m.) at the North Bellevue Community Center (4063 148th Avenue NE, Bellevue). Flyer | RSVP Bellevue
- Statewide Senior Lobby Fall Conference: Thursday, October 27, 2016 (8:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m.) at Hotel Murano, Tacoma. Pre-registration is required. For more information, visit the Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby website at www.waseniorlobby.org.
- Advisory Council Meeting: Friday, November 18, 2016 (12:00–2:00 p.m.) in Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 4060 (700 5th Avenue, Seattle). Meetings are open to the public. Agendas are available within a week of the meeting. For more information or to request an accommodation, contact Gigi Meinig at email@example.com or 206-684-0652.
For information on joining the Advisory Council, contact Aging and Disability Services planner Gigi Meinig at 206-684-0652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.