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Five things to know about age-friendly communities

New England communities are aging quickly.

According to the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging at the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston, New England is and will continue to be older than the U.S. as a whole.

Currently in the region, Maine has the highest ratio of adults aged 60 and over to children, with 183 older adults for every 100 children, but Massachusetts is not far behind with 143 older adults to every 100 children.

The aging population and demographic changes have led to an emerging movement where communities are reconsidering how they function to support and allow older adults to remain active, healthy and a contributing part of the community as they age.

These age-friendly communities are being designed with this growing population of older adults in mind.

There are lots of definitions out there, but basically age-friendly communities have policies, programs and services in place specifically designed to make it easier for older adults to stay active and healthy and continue to contribute to society.

What do you need to know about age-friendly communities?

1. They address eight broad municipal categories including: transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, community support and health services, and outdoor space and buildings.

2. They emerged to support towns and cities in creating environments that “support their aging populations and promote quality of life, independence, wellness, and active participation throughout the life course,” according to the UMass Boston Gerontology Institute.

3. They are a growing movement with several dozen age-friendly community planning projects underway in the state.

4. They enhance personal independence; allow residents to remain in their homes and communities as they age; and foster residents' engagement in the community's civic, economic, and social life, according to AARP.

5. They are a major tool in the fight to end loneliness and social isolation and strengthen mental health and well-being among older adults.

Learn more here.

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