What makes communities great places to grow up and grow old? Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC) and the Rockingham Nutrition Meals on Wheels Program (RNMOW) are leading a regional Age Friendly Communities initiative for communities in the RPC region with a goal of helping communities better plan for and address the needs of older residents now and over the next two decades.
The project is supported with a two-year grant from the Point 32 Health Foundation (formerly Tufts Health Plan Foundation) as well as funding and technical assistance from AARP New Hampshire.
The term “Age Friendly” is shorthand for communities that enable residents to thrive at every age and every stage of life. In year one of the grant RPC is working with six communities to conduct Age Friendly Communities Assessments using a national model developed by AARP that has been used extensively in New Hampshire over the past five years. The assessment process in each community is led by a local steering committee and includes a town-wide survey, community forum(s), demographic analysis and inventory of resources for older residents. The assessment process will emphasize an inclusive approach, seeking perspectives from people of color, LGBTQ residents and people impacted by disabilities among a broad range of community voices. This project will give the RPC and RNMOW an older adult lens for our work and assist the region’s municipalities in engaging older people in community planning. The AARP model considers eight dimensions of Age Friendly Communities, including health services and community supports, transportation, housing, design of outdoor spaces and building, opportunities for civic and social participation, respect and social inclusion, communication and information flow.
Eight Dimensions of Age Friendly Communities
RPC and RNMOW are working on the initiative because of the rapid growth in the region’s population projected over the next 20 years. Between 2015 and 2040 the population aged 65+ is projected to almost double. While in 2015 people aged 65+ made up about 16 percent of the population in Rockingham County, but 2035 older adults will make up over 28 percent of the population. This will have implications for community planning with regard to housing, transportation, medical and other municipal services.
YEAR ONE ASSESSMENT COMMUNITIES
Assessments will be conducted for 3-4 more communities in Year Two starting this fall!