Age-Friendly States Movement Gains Steam

New York, Massachusetts and Colorado are pioneering what could become a new trend: age-friendly states. All three received age-friendly state designations from AARP within the past year.

The movement could be good news for home care providers, if it means that states invest more in systems and infrastructure to enable aging in place and community-based services.

Achieving an “age-friendly” designation doesn’t necessarily mean these states are the best place to grow old — but if they keep their word and execute on plans to be more age-friendly, they will be. More than a designation, this is an enrollment program, Danielle Arigoni, director of livable communities at AARP, told Forbes.

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“It’s a commitment to growing in an age-friendly way, not a certification that we stamp and then you’re done,” she told the magazine.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made that commitment last week. On Nov. 14, he issued an executive order to “improve health and well-being of New Yorkers across the lifespan.”

In addition to a commitment from the governor, which includes assessments and action plans, states requesting an age-friendly designation must also complete an application. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina and Oregon may soon follow suit, according to Forbes.

Depending on location, implementation of initiatives looks different, even within states. To best serve older people, different areas within age-friendly states can adopt different policies and programs while drawing on each other for resources and expertise. For example, in Massachusetts, state leaders researched older residents’ wants and needs by conducting listening sessions across the state.

There is no one-size-fits all and that becoming age-friend is partially about combating ageism, Alice Bonner, Secretary of Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Elder Affairs, told Forbes. Broadly, the goal of AARP’s designation program is to get more groups to cater to older people, from recreation to transportation to employment. Now, age-friendly states hope to lead the charge.

“We need to figure out how to care for one another as we get older,” Bonner told the magazine. “This is not about somebody else; a bunch of 90-year-old people over there. This is about you — however old you are — and it’s about us.”

Written by Bailey Bryant

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