Communities across Maine, large and small, face a formidable challenge: How to meet the growing needs of their residents as they age. While we hear of “snowbirds” going south for the winter, many Mainers reside here year-round and others are considering Maine as a place to retire. Maine towns would benefit from looking ahead to develop strategies that support age-friendly communities where there are adequate housing and transportation options, and opportunities for older Mainers to participate in community and civic activities.
In an age-friendly community, residents benefit from an environment that encourages them to remain active and socially engaged in an enjoyable setting. By adopting such features as safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options and more opportunities for residents to participate in community activities, cities and town can become great places to live for people of all ages. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, a national initiative, is designed to support the efforts of neighborhoods, towns and cities to adopt these and other age-friendly practices. Well-designed, livable communities promote health and sustain economic growth, making for happier and healthier residents whether young or old.
Age-friendly towns, cities and counties are great for people of all ages and AARP has resources and tools available to help initiate planning strategies. At www.aarp.org/livable, you’ll find information about The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities (NAFC), a growing network of towns, cities and counties across the country that are taking steps to make their communities more age-friendly. With the use of resources such as tool kits, webinars, surveys, shared best practices and resource guides, town planners, municipalities and state or local leadership can work together to develop an age-friendly action plan that is just right for their own community.
Across the state, we are seeing more and more communities and individuals come together to support livable communities. In fact, Castine recently signed on as the 30th age-friendly Network town in Maine and the 150th in the country. Now with a total of almost 40, Maine continues to boast more communities in the NAFC than any other state in the country!
There are interesting initiatives underway in many of the communities including in Richmond and Bowdoinham where a program run by the local masons helps seniors whose homes need minor repairs and chores free of charge. To learn more about the Handy Brigade, read this Bangor Daily News artricle: http://bangordailynews.com/2017/02/26/next/to-help-maine-seniors-age-in-place-it-takes-two-villages/ As another example, in Augusta, a resident recently connected with the local Shaw’s Supermarket about installing a bench in the store for shoppers and another at the nearby bus stop. A bonus for shoppers of all ages!
Last quarter, we featured a series of columns that one of our volunteers, Bob MacDougall, wrote for the Kennebec Journal about the benefits of Age-Friendly Communities! Bob is a retiree who resides in Augusta and he volunteers for multiple organizations including the Meals on Wheels program. Bob and his wife Carol, who also volunteers with AARP Maine, serve as strong advocates on legislative issues affecting older Mainers. You can read Bob’s wonderful articles here: