Seattle – AARP and the City of Seattle announced today that Seattle has been officially designated as part of the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities. As the 104th community in the U.S. to sign on to the network, Seattle’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 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.
“As Seattle and other cities experience a demographic shift, the need for age-friendly design is becoming ever more critical,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “From urban planning, growth and development to housing, transportation and services, these aspects of our community may be shaped for and by the elderly.”
“Well-designed, livable communities promote wellbeing, sustain economic growth, and make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages,” said AARP State Director Doug Shadel. “Aging and Disability Services and Sound Generations have a strong track record locally of recognizing the value of older residents. By becoming part of the network, Seattle is making a commitment to do even more to improve livability in the city and involve older residents in the process,” he said.
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 age-friendliness through an ongoing cycle of improvement and with the involvement of older residents. Those “Livability Indicators” include:
1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
4. Social participation
5. Respect and social inclusion
6. Civic participation and employment
7. Communication and information
8. Community support and health services
The livability indicators are planned, implemented and evaluated in three phases over a five-year period, with continued cycles of re-evaluation and improvement 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. According to the U.S. Census, in 2010, 13.7% of the U.S. population was age 65-plus. By 2030, more than 20% of the population is estimated to be 65-plus.
Mayor Ed Murray’s work on both transportation and health services were recently recognized in the book,“Where We Live: Communities for All Ages,” by Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President of Community, State and National Affairs. The book provides an overview of impactful strategies put in place by mayors from towns and cities across the country, and featured Mayor Murray’s Vision Zero efforts on road safety and his work to increase access to mental health care in Seattle.
“The City of Seattle has demonstrated a commitment to work in partnership with other cities and communities across the country to address some of our nation’s most challenging issues, including homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, education, environmental sustainability, and race and social justice,” said Mayor Murray. “We are eager to bring an age-friendly perspective to these ongoing efforts, and look forward to developing new partnerships to help create a community that supports people of all ages in achieving their potential,” he said.
Through the Human Services Department, the City of Seattle currently invests $32.8M in a combination of direct services and investments in agencies that support older adults. Some of these investments include $73,000 in elder abuse prevention, $1.2M for Senior Centers, $2.2M in meal programs, and $18.3M in Medicaid case management.
Additionally, the City of Seattle Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens connects seniors with local resources including: caregiver support, financial planning, nutrition programs, and information about affordable housing. The Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens also provides services that support independent living, social and civic engagement, and healthy aging to make a positive difference in the lives of older adults and adults with disabilities.
Nationwide, 109 communities representing more than 53-million residents have received the Age-Friendly designation from AARP. Learn more at AARP.org/agefriendly, AARP.org/livable, and Seattle Human Services.