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AARP AARP States North Carolina Livable Communities

Governor Roy Cooper commits the state to improvements that benefit all ages

Governor Roy Cooper listens to remarks by AARP North Carolina Director Mike Olender welcoming the state into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities

The State of North Carolina Joins the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities

RALEIGH -- Through an Executive Order, Governor Roy Cooper today directed his cabinet agencies to work together to make North Carolina better prepared for its rapidly aging population.  The Executive Order raises awareness and creates urgency to collaborate on services and infrastructure that meet the needs of the young, the old and everyone in between.

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North Carolina was also accepted today into the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities, committing the state to improvements in domains of “livability” that benefit residents of all ages.  North Carolina is the 10th state to join the Age Friendly Network, along with over 750 communities across the country. 

AARP North Carolina Director Mike Olender explains, “By 2035 there will be more people over the age of 65 in the United States than under 18. In North Carolina, 90 out of our 100 counties will have more people over age 60 than under 18. To prepare, many cities, towns and counties in the state have already joined the Network. With the state now a member, it will help further collaboration, accelerate the progress being made, and will inspire even more change.

When it comes to identifying age-friendly community needs, that work is well underway. In 2022 the Governor’s Initiative called “Hometown Strong” in partnership with AARP and the NC Department of Health and Human Services, conducted a statewide survey of over 3,000 respondents who identified being able to age in their own homes and communities as a top priority.

Mary Penny Kelley, director of Hometown Strong, an initiative to support the needs of rural communities said, “Our state’s aging population has become a cause for concern, as the nature of urban and rural development, daily living, work, leisure, and retirement are expected to change in order to keep up. Needs expand well beyond our growing metro areas, North Carolina is a rural state, with 80 of our 100 counties being outside major metropolitan areas. Approximately 2.2 million people call rural North Carolina home.”

Improving age-friendly domains of livability help communities to be better equipped to become great places, and even lifelong homes, for people of all ages," Kelley added.

Olender explained some aspects of what make a place great for all, “Living in a place that, say, requires having a car for every errand or outing can be a difficult place to live if you don't have a car or can't drive. Living in a place without access to outdoor spaces, good schools and healthy food isn't very livable, especially for young families. Living in a community that isn't safe, or offers few activities, can be isolating for people regardless of age.”

Current North Carolina Network members are Archdale, Jamestown, the Town of Cary, Durham, Kinston, Leland, Matthews, and Mt. Airy as well as Buncombe, Orange, Durham, Forsyth, Lenoir, Mecklenburg, and Wake Counties.

Membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities does not mean AARP is endorsing any of the following municipalities as a place to live. Nor does it mean the community or state listed is currently "age-friendly." What membership does means is that the community's elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their town, city, county or state a great place to live for people of all ages.


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