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AARP AARP States Georgia Livable Communities

Georgia Regions Join the AARP Age-Friendly Network

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Millerrene Lockett, of Dawson, used to skip her dialysis appointments because she couldn’t find a ride. This threatened her ability to live independently.

“I don’t drive. I tried to pay someone to take me, but that didn’t always work out,” the 77-year-old retired housekeeper says. “It was very stressful.”

Lockett makes those appointments now, thanks to transportation services offered to older residents by the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission (SWGRC). 

In May, the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities named the Camilla-based commission its first regional member because of its commitment to services like these. 

More than 2 million Georgians live in areas designated as age-friendly by AARP. In 2012, Macon-Bibb County became the first member of the network, part of AARP’s Livable Communities Initiative. Today it includes more than 570 localities nationwide. 

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. Communities are committing to putting services in place to account for their increasingly older residents. 

Amenities for older adults

“We want our citizens to be able to age in place, and that is why the AARP age-friendly program spoke to us,” says Suzanne Angell, SWGRC executive director. 

The 14 rural counties and 43 small cities and towns the commission serves are home to many older Georgians. 

“Our area has the largest rural transportation system in the state,” Angell says. “We also administer grants to help our seniors make their homes livable.”

A goal is for older adults not to need to relocate across state lines to remain independent. 

“We want to make sure our communities have the same types of amenities and facilities as Florida, so they will stay where they are,” Angell says. “That means good sidewalks, transportation and housing options.”

The SWGRC is collaborating with AARP Georgia to make the region more livable for people of  all ages. AARP offers access to its technical resources, training and grant opportunities, as well as networking with like-minded communities. 

“It is kind of a no-brainer that we would want to be an AARP age-friendly community,” said Scott Courson, Area Agency on Aging director for the Southern Georgia Regional Commission, the other new member of the AARP network.

The commission also does comprehensive planning for dozens of counties and municipalities. 

“This age-friendly designation will help us make sure that our older adults are at the table whenever there is planning that involves the community,” Courson says. “While we are doing a lot of this work already, we can multiply that effect and think about other areas to focus on.”

One possibility could be to help cities and towns that don’t have a grocery store get access to nutritious food. “Senior hunger is a top priority for Georgia,” Courson says. “If we figure out how to get fresh fruits and vegetables to these communities, then that would benefit not only older adults but everyone.”

To learn more about the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, visit

Ann Hardie is a writer living in Atlanta. 

For More on Livable Communities:

What Is a Livable Community?

About AARP Georgia
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