Age Friendly Community Workgroup
Accessing housing, transportation and services while combating isolation
Participants at both events prioritized the creation of aging friendly communities. These are communities that actively engage older adults in creating infrastructure and services that effectively accommodate needs across the full aging continuum. These communities are built around thoughtful planning that identifies the greatest needs of older adults and implements plans that address issues like access to health care and support services, isolation, access to reliable and appropriate transportation options, access to affordable housing and walkable sidewalks and streets.iv In order to encourage towns and cities across Maine to establish and duplicate these communities, recommendations include:
Community Based Solutions
- Create and promote safe and affordable housing, including exploring rezoning of housing stock and development of housing with proximity to services.
- Create a best practice database for transportation strategies and housing models. Develop a publicly available best practice database to provide information and strategies for municipal leaders interested in building aging-friendly communities.
- Change zoning laws to encourage home sharing and support the ability of older Mainers to remain in their homes. Modify local zoning ordinances to permit home modifications to accommodate home sharing or multi-family living arrangements that enable older adults to remain at home. Create networking opportunities for people to learn about safe and affordable home sharing models.
- Support information sharing between municipalities. Share information and best practices, highlighting the success of municipalities where current housing stock meets the needs of older adults and where zoning allows for assistive housing co-located with services and the creation of new models of assisted living and nursing home care.
- Bring developers, finance and municipal leaders together. Capitalize on the shared interest and diversity of perspectives to analyze best practices and implement aging friendly ideas like co-located housing, coordinated health care services and increased public transportation.
- Promote the creation of intergenerational community centers that co-locate child and elder care systems, including quality early education and adult day programming.
- Promote successful models of supported community-based living, like the village-to-village model. Villages are community-established, membership-based, grass-roots organizations run by volunteers and paid staff that coordinate member access to services including transportation, home repair, wellness and social programs and vetted, discounted providers. Communities should be encouraged to expand the village-to-village concept to be a public/private partnership that accommodates the needs of low income older adults as well as those who can pay for services.
- Create, support and promote efficient, affordable energy and heating sources, weatherization programs and home repair programs. Many older adults cannot afford to repair homes or make them more energy efficient. Support programs that provide resources or tools to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs.
- Support transportation initiatives. Many older people live rurally and no longer drive. Older Mainers who no longer drive also face the prospect of limited transportation services or are disabled and unable to utilize the even fewer transportation services designed to meet their needs.
- Enhance access to broadband internet to ensure assistive technology can be deployed and to reduce isolation.
- encourage naturally occurring community responses to the needs of older residents, older workers and family caregivers
- prevent programs from remaining fragmented and created in isolation
- provide support and a catalog of promising models already in use elsewhere—in both northern New England and nationally
- create a forum for people working on these issues to share ideas and tools or get technical assistance.