St. Petersburg, Fla. – An overwhelming 89 percent of St. Petersburg residents think their city is a good place to live as they grow older, a new survey by AARP Florida reveals.
But there are aspects of living longer in St. Petersburg that could be better, and a new city initiative launching Feb. 11 – part of a global movement to prepare for longer lifespans -- aims to identify and improve those areas.
The survey, conducted in 2016, is a tool St. Petersburg College, the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, the City of St. Petersburg and AARP Tampa Bay are using in a joint initiative to gain official Age-Friendly City designation from the World Health Organization.
According to statistics released by AARP and the U.S. Conference of Mayors earlier this month, about 43 million Americans are already age 65 or older, a figure that is expected to nearly double by 2050. At the same time, populations are expected to be even more concentrated in cities.
WHO’s Global Age-Friendly Cities and Communities initiative is designed to help cities prepare for this future of longer life. The program targets the environmental, social, and economic factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults. AARP and the WHO are working together with communities across the United States to promote age-friendly policies that will allow communities to become places where adults can live independently, even to advanced ages. Globally, some 380 cities in 37 countries are making a commitment to make their community a better place for all ages.
In St. Petersburg, AARP Florida is teaming up with the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to introduce local residents to what it means to become Age-Friendly. The process begins with a Listening Session from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 11 at the Sunshine Center, 330 Fifth St. N. The public is invited to this free event, aimed at gathering a diverse range of viewpoints on the quality of life in St. Petersburg. Coffee and refreshments will be provided.
“Happily, the city already has a lot going for it,” said Jason Martino, Director of Planning for the Area Agency on Aging Pinellas-Pasco. “The survey largely confirmed findings of a similar study we did in 2011. Besides a high satisfaction level with life in the city overall, 66 percent feel the city has very good to excellent hospitals and health care facilities, and over half feel our parks are safe – all important issues for folks as they age.”
Additional survey findings:
- Transportation: 90 percent use their own cars; 28 percent are unaware public transit is available.
- Housing: 31 percent give the city poor marks for safe, low-income housing.
- Some 69 percent would be happy to remain in their current homes as they age.
“The Feb. 11 Listening Session is the first of a series that will be held around the city this year”, said Laura Cantwell, Associate State Director of Advocacy for AARP Florida. “We will use the data gathered in this phase of the project to develop an action plan that will include recommendations to policy makers and service providers to close the gaps identified by residents and improve on existing facilities and services.”