In a brief ceremony today on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, author of “Disrupt Aging,” officially welcomed Martha’s Vineyard to the The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
Healthy Aging Martha’s Vineyard (HA-MV) Chairman Paddy Moore accepted the recognition and a certificate from Jenkins, on behalf of more than 70 community leaders representing 37 non-profit and municipal organizations serving Island elders, their families, and caregivers. Moore said HA-MV is “… excited and grateful to be collaborating with AARP and the Global Network of Age Friendly communities in this important effort. We are particularly pleased that AARP supports our collaborative approach to involving elders across all six island towns in making the whole island an Age-Friendly community.”
Tufts Health Plan Foundation is funding the Healthy Aging Martha’s Vineyard initiative.
Cities and towns that take part in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities adopt “livability” features such as walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community activities. Well-designed, livable communities also help sustain economic growth.
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities 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.
All six Martha’s Vineyard towns (Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury) collaborated with HA-MV in the development of and application for membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Each town will benefit from the research and resources that AARP’s network provides its members in the common effort to improve the lives of people 50+ on Martha’s Vineyard.
The mission of HA-MV is to create an “Aging-Friendly” Island to meet the needs of Islanders 50+. Developing approaches and incubating programs to improve services and facilities for these Island residents are priorities for HA-MV. It is expected that this will, in turn, increase participation of Islanders in the social, economic and political life of the six Martha’s Vineyard towns. Through a community-wide planning process, HA-MV plans to engage stakeholders, foster collaborative programs, and fill gaps in needed services.
Few places in the country will feel the impact of aging baby boomers and increased life expectancy as much as Martha’s Vineyard. Dukes County has been the fastest-growing county in Massachusetts for last 20 years, as many boomers move to the island and many seasonal residents retire there. In 2010 one in every six islanders was 65 or older; in 2030 this will be one in three. The Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts projects that the number of Islanders age 65+ will grow by 134 percent in the 20-year period between 2010 and 2030, while that same population will grow by 61 percent and 81 percent across Massachusetts and the U.S., respectively.
According to 2010 census figures, 47 percent of Vineyard heads-of-households age 65+ have annual incomes of less than $35,000, and 18 percent of those 65+ live on less than $15,000 per year, figures which are well below the federal poverty level The greatest impact of the demographic changes will be on so-called “frail elders,” those people in their eighties and nineties, which is when increasing rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia take a toll.
For more information, visit www.aarp.org/livable.