AARP New Mexico State Director Gene Varela and State President Jackie Cooper recently  presented Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry with a certificate formally enrolling the city into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. The presentation was made Nov. 21 at the Barelas Senior Center.

The City became the 189th community to be enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. AARP’s age-friendly network encourages states, counties, cities, towns and rural areas to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population. The network encourages communities to take action and pay increased attention to the environmental, economic, and social features that encourage greater age integration and diversity and create a community that supports residents from the cradle through retirement.

AARP New Mexico has been working with the City’s Department of Senior Affairs and ABQ Together, a city initiative that is focusing on age-friendly issues, for the past two years, conducting a series of town hall meetings with the general public and neighborhood associations to identify what would make Albuquerque “Age-Friendly”. The work culminated in the City submitting a formal application to become part of the network.”

“Albuquerque is a great place where anyone can thrive in our age-friendly environment,” said Mayor Richard J. Berry. “We know that in order to become an age-friendly community we had to be intentional with our policies and initiatives at every level. I am hopeful that Albuquerque will only get better with all the groundwork and teamwork that happened over the past few years that led to this designation.”

AARP State Director Gene Varela said, “What enrollment means is that Albuquerque’s elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their town, city or county a great place for people of all ages. Our research has shown that people want to age in place and the Age-Friendly network ensures that as communities work on future development that certain age-friendly concepts are included in the planning process.”

“We are excited that the city of Albuquerque has committed to putting services in place that create a sense of community, so that people can be engaged in their neighborhoods as they age. We are hopeful that this work will continue,” Varela said.

Mayor Berry was featured in AARP’s Second Edition of Where We Live: Communities for All Ages, highlighting two of his innovative programs, the Heading Home Project and There’s a Better Way, both designed to reduce homelessness.

The Age-Friendly Network focuses on eight areas, or domains, that cover several basic community features. Developed by the World Health Organization, the 8 Domains of Livabilty framework is used by many of the towns, cities and counties in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities to organize and prioritize their work to become more livable for both older residents and people of all ages.

The domains include: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings; Transportation; Housing; Social Participation; Respect and Social Inclusion; Civic Participation and Employment; Communication and Information; and Health and Community Service.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities was launched in April 2012 and operates under the auspices of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program.

(Photo caption: AARP New Mexico State Director Gene Varela and State President Jackie Cooper presented Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry with the official certificate enrolling the city into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. Shown left to right are Trish Comer, president of the North Campus Neighborhood Association, Gene Varela, Anthony Romero, deputy director of the city’s Department of Senior Affairs, Jorja Armijo-Brasher, director of the city’s Department of Senior Affairs, Mayor Berry and Jackie Cooper, all who were instrumental to earning this certification.)