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AARP AARP States Massachusetts

AARP Livable Communities & Massachusetts

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How age-friendly or livable is your community? Take a short quiz and let us know how you feel.

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The AARP Community Challenge grant program returns for its 8th year and you'd be as excited as us if you knew what it could mean for your community. Through this program over the last 8 years, AARP has invested $16.4 million toward projects in 900 communities nationwide. Eligible Bay State non-profit and government grantees have used Community Challenge grants to fund projects that improve public places, housing, transportation, community health, and more in communities like yours. Click here to apply & learn more about eligibility requirements, grant types & more.

Want to see the 2023 Bay State Grantees and what they did for their projects? Click Here.

AARP Livable Communities & Massachusetts

Approximately 45 million Americans are age 65 or older. By 2030, that number will reach 73 million Americans. At that point, fully one in five Americans will be older than 65. By 2034, the United States will — for the first time ever — be a country comprised of more older adults than of children.
AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas to be great places for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.

A livable community is one that is safe and secure. It offers choices in where to live and how to get around. And it equitably serves residents of all ages, ability levels, incomes, races, ethnicities, and other backgrounds. Livable communities:

  • enhance personal independence;
  • allow residents to remain in their homes and communities as they age; and
  • provide opportunities for residents of all ages, ability levels, and backgrounds to engage fully in civic, economic, and social life.

8 Domains of Livability:

The availability and quality of these community features impact the well-being of older adults - and help make communities more livable for people of all ages. The 8 Domains of Livability framework is used by many of the towns, cities, counties and states enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities to organize and prioritize their work to become more livable for both older residents and people of all ages. To learn even more about the 8 Domains of Livability, click here.

1) Outdoor Spaces & Buildings- people need public places to gather- indoors and out. Green spaces, seating, and accessible buildings (elevators, zero-step entrances, staircases with railings) can be used and enjoyed by people of all ages.

2) Transportation- driving shouldn't be the only way to get around. Pedestrians need sidewalks and safe, crossable streets. Dedicated bicycle lanes benefit nondrivers and drivers alike. Public transit options can range from the large-scale (trains, buses, light rail) to the small (taxis, shuttles, or ride share services).

3) Housing - AARP surveys consistently find that the vast majority of older adults want to reside in their current home or community for as long as possible. Doing so is possible if a home is designed or modified for aging in place, or if a community has housing options that are suitable for differing incomes, ages and life stages.

4) Social Participation- Regardless of a person's age, loneliness is often as debilitating a health condition as having a chronic illness or disease. Sadness and isolation can be combated by having opportunities to socialize and the availability to accessible, affordable, and fun social activities.

5) Respect and Social Inclusion- Everyone wants to feel valued. Intergenerational gatherings and activities are a great way for young and older people to learn from one another, honor what each has to offer and, at the same time, feel good about themselves.

6) Work & Civic Engagement- Why does work need to be an all or nothing experience? An age & dementia-friendly community encourages older people to be actively engaged in community life and has opportunities for residents to work for pay or volunteer their skills.

7) Communication and Information- We now communicate in ways few could have imagined a decade ago. Age-friendly communities recognize that information needs to be shared through a variety of methods since not everyone is tech-savvy, and not everyone has a smartphone or home-based access to the internet.

8) Community & Health Services- At some point, every person of every age gets hurt, becomes ill or simply needs some help. While it's important that assistance and care be available nearby, it's essential that residents are able to access and afford the services required.

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Walkability is also a crucial factor when it comes to a community being livable and age-friendly. How walkable is your community? Can you walk safely with crosswalks, speed limits, and properly timed walk signs? In many places, these crucial features are missing. In Massachusetts, alarming data reveals an average of 70 pedestrian deaths annually: reaching 101 in 2022 alone. To address this, walk audits step in. Walk audits involve residents & local leaders gathering to document car speed, traffic light/walk sign intervals, and more. These small steps have encouraged big adjustments in community walkability and safety. Scroll below to learn more about walkability. Access the award-winning AARP Walk Audit toolkit here.

Walkability Webinar [ON-Demand & Free]

Walkability Webinar Video

How walkable are the streets in your community? Are they accessible, safe, comfortable and enjoyable for residents of all ages? Watch our free webinar to discover the importance of walkable streets and how they can benefit your entire community. You’ll explore how having walkable streets can help local businesses succeed and support health and safety for all. This free webinar shows how grassroots efforts and pilot projects can help neighbors, policymakers, local leaders and volunteers make roadways safe for all users. Sign up and watch now.

Recorded- 2023 AARP Livable Communities Economic Development Workshop. When this aired, it was designed to explore how local leaders can advance economic development in urban, suburban and rural communities by:

  • Establishing vibrant Main Streets and encouraging small-scale development
  • Ensuring that communities are well-connected with high-speed internet access
  • Providing entrepreneurial and upskilling opportunities for residents of all ages
  • Recognizing the value of unpaid contributions, such as volunteerism and caregiving

Through four core themes — The Built Environment, Digital Connections, Work and Jobs, and Local Economies — the workshop shared best practices, insights and inspiring next steps for meeting the economic development needs of communities today .Click here to view the recording.

About AARP Massachusetts
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.