What is an Age-Friendly Community?
An Age-Friendly community is one that provides for the needs of residents of all ages and abilities. An Age-Friendly community encourages the development of diverse housing; whether for older adults looking to downsize or for younger adults looking to move into their first home. It provides transportation options for residents who cannot drive or would like to live without a car. It provides recreation opportunities and spaces for community gatherings and events for young and old alike. Becoming an Age-Friendly community requires not only investment in services and programs, but also ensuring accessibility to those same services for all residents. In New Hampshire, the population is rapidly aging and young professionals are leaving the State to seek opportunities elsewhere. The Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission recognizes this reality and is looking at the ways in which its region is and can work toward creating communities that are livable for all ages.
Do You Have an Age-Friendly Community?
To understand what a community is doing well, and what needs to be improved on, SNHPC developed Age-Friendly Community Assessments. The assessment is a planning tool, designed to highlight assets recognized in the community, , the opportunities that might be hidden, and identify barriers to becoming an Age-Friendly community. The Age-Friendly Community Assessment Tool focuses on the following four topic areas:
- Recreation and Engagement;
- Transportation and Connections; and
- Business and Economic Development
The Assessment Tools for each category were developed by SNHPC with the help of many municipal, regional, and state partners. Through community conversations, assessments are the introduction into understanding what’s important to community members. Knowing that community feedback is critical to awareness and understanding, ensuring participation through multiple outreach venues is vital. Still, for each community assessment, it is also recommended to undergo a resident survey (online and hardcopy) to better understand from a broader audience all the important issues for residents as they age.
SNHPC’s Age-Friendly Program
In 2015, the planners at Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission (SNHPC) began asking themselves:
- What does an age-friendly community look like?
- What sort of services would be available?
- How would residents of all ages be able to fully enjoy their communities?
Thanks to the support from Tufts Health Plan Foundation, AARP, and NH DOT, and all our many partnering agencies and community champions, the Commission has been able to learn about what matters to adults as they age.