Paris Designated AARP Age Friendly Community; Starts Planning Process with Community Survey
The small Maine town of Paris has joined 53 towns and cities across the U.S. who are part of the AARP’s Network of Age Friendly Communities. The initiative targets improvements that influence the health and quality of life of older adults in the community. Other Maine towns and cities participating in the program are Bowdoinham, Portland, Kennebunk, and Ellsworth.
In Paris the initiative is being spearheaded by Sarah Glynn, an attorney at the Oxford Hills law firm, who practices with Linda Russell, who specializes in Elder Law. “For many months, if not years, my law partner and I have recognized that there is a dearth of ready support for our seniors. By the time folks get to our office, there are often real legal issues that could have been easily prevented if folks knew where to turn. Our senior population is extremely vulnerable, and we had been brainstorming ideas to bridge the gaps and fill the void for these people.” Glynn thinks the program is a perfect adjunct to the town’s Market Square Revitalization strategy.
Law partner Linda Russell heard about the AARP Age Friendly Community program at a meeting of the Oxford Hills chapter of the AARP. “When I heard about the AFC from Linda, the framework seemed perfect! The eight domains of livability, while focused on our seniors, run parallel to the general needs of the community to draw in families – and consequently businesses – to want to live within our Town limits. I can see the identification and development of these eight domains as being able to provide a continuum of care.”
Paris is also the first recipient of a grant from AARP Maine to support the age friendly work. The $8000 grant will fund a survey on aging and livability issues.
“Our initial step is to obtain a baseline assessment of the community’s age-friendliness, and involve older people throughout this cycle,” Glynn said. An action plan will be developed based on the results of the assessment.
“The response from the Town has been terrific, and all seem very excited about it. We look forward to learning the results of the survey, and establishing a plan to address the needs of Paris,” Glynn said,
Glynn is working with a group, now called the Paris Revitalization Committee, which finalized a Town Paris Strategic Plan for Market Square which was approved in December 2014. “I’m all for business and community growth, but we mustn’t forget that we – as a community – should be thinking about the needs of our seniors so that we can stabilize and maintain a thriving community. As we began looking at the community resources, the help that is available is phenomenal! But the average Joe-citizen doesn’t know how to access it, and there is no focal point to be able to provide the direction that people need.” Glynn said.
Towns, volunteers, and community leaders here in Maine can learn more about the program from the AARP’s Peter Morelli, at Pmorelli@aarp.org or 712-7105.
For information on the AARP’s Age Friendly Community Program: http://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/network-age-friendly-communities/info-2014/an-introduction.html Find AARP’s Age Friendly Tool Kit at http://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/network-age-friendly-communities/ The AARP Age Friendly assessment tools can be used as is or modified by any community who wishes to do so. AARP.org/livable contains the keys to hundreds of reports, action plans, studies and more about livable communities-related topics such as housing and transportation.
Featured Image: Paris, Maine, Downtown Revitalization Chair Jeanie Stone and Selectman Robert Wessels receive a certificate recognizing Paris’ participation in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities from the AARP’s Peter Morelli.