COLUMBIA, Md. (Dec. 3, 2019) - AARP is welcoming Howard County as the latest member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. As the most recent jurisdiction to sign on to the network and complete an intensive two-year study and planning project, Howard County’s civic leaders will have access to global resources and information on age-friendly best practices, models of assessment and implementation, and the experiences of towns and cities around the world.
The need for communities to recognize and incorporate the needs of citizens of all ages cannot be understated. In just 11 years -- by 2030 -- all 77 million baby boomers will be 65-plus. With admission into the World Health Organization network, Howard County joins a global network of communities committed to providing residents the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives at every age.
The Age-Friendly network helps participating communities become great places for people of all ages by adopting features such as safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents to participate in civic and community activities.
“Over the last ten years, the average annual growth of our 65+ population has been nearly five times higher than our overall population and our student population according to Census data. Currently, 21 percent of Howard County residents are over 60 years old and in 25 years, this number will increase to nearly 30 percent,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball at a ceremony announcing the initiative.
“Building an Age-Friendly Howard County is a long-term effort which will require a new way of working together: collaboration among residents of all ages, with a great deal of input from our older adults; and, businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, civic organizations, faith-based communities, and philanthropic groups. We are dedicated to serving our older adults through education opportunities, affordable living, a culture of wellness, and all the services needed and desired. The future of our community will be age-friendly, building on our strengths to provide the highest quality resources that enrich lives,” Ball continued.
Eight Domains of an Age-Friendly Community
The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities targets improvements in eight domains that influence the health and quality of life for all as we age. Communities participating in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities commit to improving their livability through an assessment of needs, development of an action plan, implementation of new projects and programs, and ongoing assessment – all with the involvement of the community. The eight areas of focus for the age-friendly process are:
· Outdoor spaces and buildings
· Social participation
· Respect and social inclusion
· Civic participation and employment
· Communication and information
· Community support and health services
The livability indicators are planned, implemented and assessed in three phases over a five-year period, with continued cycles of progress assessment and improvement continuing thereafter.
Affiliated with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities®, the AARP network helps cities and towns to prepare for two significant ongoing trends: rapid population aging and increasing urbanization.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.