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Livable community conference in Phoenix informs national aging efforts.

Never Too Old—To Connect. To Change. To Choose.
Livable community conference in Phoenix informs national aging efforts


Never Too Old LogoWe have a choice in how we age—both as individuals and communities. What’s more, we can use our local lessons as a national model. That was the goal of a recent statewide conference to create livable, age friendly communities.  

Coordinated with Age Friendly Arizona and partners in October, the theme of the conference was, Never Too Old—To Connect. To Change. To Choose. It focused on the need to provide connections among people of all ages, what needs to change, and the choices all residents have as to where and how they choose to live.  

Mayor Mitchell“We are issuing a call to build an Arizona for people of all ages,” said Tempe Mayor and MAG Chair Mark Mitchell. “We must intentionally design communities to make it easier for all residents to connect with all generations. This means providing opportunities for people of any age to interact socially, to be engaged in their communities, and to ensure they have access to resources that enable them to live in their own homes and communities for as long as they choose.”

The conference included participation from local government leaders, health providers, nonprofits, and community planners.  It highlighted “eight domains of livability” promoted by AARP. 

“These domains are based on universal needs that range from transportation to housing to social engagement,” said AARP Arizona State Director Dana Kennedy. “This framework is used by many of the towns, cities, counties, and states enrolled in the AARP network of livable communities to organize and prioritize aging initiatives.”

The conference brought together members of the health care community, transportation agencies, social services providers, governments, and residents to discuss how to create the values outlined in the domains. Grantmakers in Aging, a national membership organization of philanthropies, plans to use feedback from the conference to develop a national toolkit for use by other regions around the country. 

On a statewide basis, Arizona serves as a national model for many age-friendly activities. Age Friendly Arizona is a collaborative effort coordinated by MAG to support the independence and community growth of older adults and help enhance quality of life.

Councilmember Arnold Lopez“While each of our communities has unique challenges based on our size and resources, what we have in common is more significant: that we are all here to serve people,” said Safford City Councilman Arnold Lopez, who serves on the Advisory Council on Aging for the Area Agency on Aging Region VI. “All of us have similar priorities when it comes to enjoying the place where we live.”

The event was made possible thanks to the support of a number of sponsors and partners. Title sponsors for the event includes Grantmakers in Aging and May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. The Platinum Sponsor was AARP Arizona. Partners included Age Friendly Arizona, Arizona Public Health Association, Experience Matters, and Vitalyst Health Foundation. 

AARP 8 Domains of Livability

  1. Outdoor spaces and 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.  The 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.  Loneliness is often a debilitating health condition. Opportunities to socialize and the availability of accessible, affordable and fun social activities can overcome isolation.
  5. Respect and Social Inclusion. 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. Civic participation and employment. An age-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. 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 and Health Services. We all need help when we become ill or hurt. It is essential that all residents can access and afford the services required.

Published October 29, 2019

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The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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