AARP welcomes Olmsted County as latest member of its network of age-friendly states and communities
1/7/2020 Carla Zbacnik, AARP, and Dave Beal, Family Service Rochester

Olmsted County commissioners, AARP representatives and Dave Beal from Family Service Rochester
AARP is pleased to welcome Olmsted County as the latest member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. As the latest Minnesota community to sign on to the network, Olmsted County’s civic leaders will have access to global resources and information on age-friendly best practices, models of assessment and implementation, and the experiences of towns and cities around the world.

The network helps participating communities become great places for people of all ages by adopting features such as safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents to participate in civic and community activities.

“Well-designed, livable communities promote wellbeing, sustain economic growth, and make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages,” said AARP Minnesota State Director Will Phillips. He continued, “By becoming part of the network, Olmsted County is making a commitment to do even more to improve livability in Minnesota and involve older residents in the process.”

“Olmsted County is committed to creating and maintaining an age-friendly community,” said Olmsted County Board of Commissioners Chair Matt Flynn. “Olmsted County recognizes the importance of encouraging and promoting age-friendly planning and policies to address changing demographics and to enhance independent living. We are dedicated to a process of continual improvement to support active and healthy aging.”

In the City for Good’s Age-Friendly Community action team initiated the process of bringing Olmsted County into the network in late 2017. With the support of AARP Minnesota, they hosted a series of age-friendly related forums, conducted a baseline community assessment, and worked with Olmsted County to develop a local plan for participation in the network.

Family Service Rochester has agreed to lead the age-friendly planning process. Family Service Rochester will facilitate planning activities and the preparation of an action report with Olmsted County assisting participants in understanding how local data informs opportunities and priorities for collective action.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities targets improvements in eight domains that influence the health and quality of life for all as we age. Communities participating in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities commit to improving their livability through an assessment of needs, development of an action plan, implementation of new projects and programs, and ongoing assessment – all with the involvement of older residents. 

The eight areas of focus for the age-friendly process are:
1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
2. Transportation
3. Housing
4. Social participation
5. Respect and social inclusion
6. Civic participation and employment
7. Communication and information
8. Community support and health services

The livability indicators are planned, implemented and progress assessed in three phases over a five-year period, with continued cycles of assessment and improvement thereafter.

Affiliated with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities®, the AARP network helps cities and towns to prepare for two significant ongoing trends: rapid population aging and increasing urbanization. As of the 2010 Census, 15.5% of Olmsted County residents are people age 65 and older. By 2040, data indicates that close to 24% percent of Olmsted County residents will be over the age of 65. Nationwide, 430 communities across six states have received the Age-Friendly designation from AARP. Learn more at AARP.org/agefriendly and AARP.org/livable.