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Age-Friendly Communities Michigan Part of New Network By Rene Rosencrantz Wheaton Y ou don’t have to tell anyone who’s woken up with sore joints or had to hold a paper at arm-length to read it, that growing old isn’t easy. While the Association for the Advancement of Retired People (AARP) can’t stop the clock, the organization is working to make aging easier on everyone starting at the local level. The AARP, in affiliation with the World Health Organization (WHO), has launched the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities across the U.S., including pilot programs in Michigan, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. “As communities become more age-friendly, people of all ages will find them appealing,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “Not only older people, but mothers with strollers and ex joggers with knee problems will welcome crosswalks with countdown clocks and mid-crossing safe havens. You shouldn’t have to be a former Olympic sprinter to get across the street before the light changes.” The AARP will help government officials, businesses, and community leaders jump-start their efforts to make neighborhoods ready for aging baby boomers. The goal is to provide physical and social environ- ments for the seniors that will help them remain healthy, active, and engaged in their communities. As communities become more age-friendly, people of all ages will find them appealing. 12 THE REVIEW MAY/JUNE 2013 The effort will specifically address the ongoing, global trends of rapid population aging and increasing urbanization. For example, Scottsdale City, Arizona is considered the U.S.’s oldest city, with one in five of their residents falling in the 65 and older age bracket. By 2030, the entire country will resemble Scottsdale City. WHO and AARP want to help communities face their aging populations with forward-thinking public policies and urban planning. Making these proactive efforts can help communities attract and retain more residents as well as businesses seeking to serve older populations, their families, and caregivers. Auburn Hills and Ann Arbor are the first Michigan cities in the program. These cities, and others like them, will be looking at a variety of things to improve the quality of life in their communities. Continued on page 14