As a global movement to make communities more livable gathers momentum, Florida cities, counties and a key state agency are picking up speed in their own livability quest.

A year of intense activity and great successes culminated with AARP Florida’s Second Annual Sharing Symposium in December at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg.

Community leaders, urban planners and other Age-Friendly Network advocates, including the Florida Department of Elder Affairs andThe Patterson Foundation gathered together to share insights and information and resources on how to better prepare for a future with livable communities. Experts provided strategies and solutions that would make communities better places for all ages.

Being a part of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities entails a commitment to making the community a livable place for people to work, play, and age. The network encourages states, cities, towns, and counties to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population by paying increased attention to the environmental, economic, and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults.

Members of the network agree to draft formal plans to become more livable for people of any age, gather input from residents, businesses and other local interest groups, and then implement the plans.

Goals include ensuring the community is safe and secure, has affordable housing and transportation options, provides easy access to health facilities and offers supportive services. The program also encourages neighborhood designs that promote walking, biking and exercise.

“Our goal is for communities to be welcoming and livable for people from age eight to eighty,” said Laura Cantwell, AARP Florida associate state director for livable communities. “Energy and commitment to achieve that goal is growing throughout the state. It was inspiring to see communities from all across Florida sharing ideas and learning from each other at the Sharing Symposium recently.”

Florida’s population has the highest percentage of retirees, and nearly a fifth of Floridians are 65 or older. Cities, towns and rural areas across the state are responding by joining the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. In addition to the AARP network, dozens of Florida cities and counties also have joined a state-based network call the Communities for a Lifetime (CFAL) network, supported by the state Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA). This past October, AARP Florida and the Florida Department of Elder Affairs joined together to help make communities better for people of all ages. This collaboration will begin conversations about the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities framework and will provide resources and information to CFAL communities and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

By the end of 2016, at least nine Florida communities committed to join the AARP network, and by the end of 2017, the network membership in Florida grew to 16. AARP is helping local leaders across the state with planning. The following is a list of Florida age-friendly communities:

  • Cutler Bay
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Hallandale Beach
  • Hollywood
  • Lakeland
  • Longwood
  • Miami-Dade County
  • Palmetto Bay
  • Pembroke Pines
  • Pinecrest
  • Pinellas County
  • Sarasota County
  • Satellite Beach
  • St. Petersburg
  • Tallahassee
  • Winter Haven