FRCOG workshop to explore age-friendly communities

  • A group of people walk along a paved pathway in a Northeast community that has become more age-friendly. Hundreds of big and small communities around the world are working to make sure people can live there from birth to old age. Experts say that community efforts to become more age-friendly are gaining momentum, especially as the number of people ages 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2050. AP Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 11/28/2019 10:54:18 PM

Town and city leaders throughout Franklin County have pondered the idea that their populations are aging, and Franklin Regional Council of Governments wants to help the county create places where older residents can not only live but thrive.

FRCOG will hold a municipal officials workshop, “Age-Friendly Community Planning: A Tool for Building Stronger Communities,” on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Allen Meeting Room at the John W. Olver Transit Center on Olive Street. The snow date is Tuesday, Dec. 17, at the same time.

According to FRCOG Director of Community Services Phoebe Walker, if communities want to keep their longtime residents, they are going to have to meet some of their basic needs and consider the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults.

Walker said not only will the workshop provide information, but it will encourage town and city leaders to start thinking about how to assess what they have and what they need to keep their elderly residents in place, how to prioritize and then how to implement ideas. She said the workshop will discuss resources that support age-friendly planning locally, as well as the potential benefits for all residents in a community. She said lessons from other age-friendly towns will be explored.

“The point of the workshop is to help explain the processes of the age-friendly model, which are used by the World Health Organization and AARP,” she said. “There are basically eight domains that lead to age friendliness. We want those who want to participate to learn how to set goals, do the assessments and move forward.”

She said towns and cities that want to become age-friendly should be looking at the eight domains, which are outdoor spaces and public places, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, work and civic engagement, communications and information, and community and health services.

“For instance, if you’re looking at parks and other public spaces, are there benches where seniors can sit?” she said. “Are there activities within a community that are held at times that are convenient for older residents? Can communities expand housing so that seniors more easily age in place? There’s a lot to look at, and all of them benefit all residents, really.”

Walker said when a town or city decides to become an “official” age-friendly community, it opens the door to resources and funding for them, so the goal is to be designated “age-friendly” by AARP.

“We’ll discuss how to do that,” she said. “It also opens the door to cities and towns working with the state through the Community Compact Cabinet.”

She said the Community Compact Cabinet elevates state partnerships with cities and towns, allowing the governor’s office to work more closely with leaders of those municipalities.

“Deerfield is going through the experience,” Walker said. “It has gone through the process of becoming designated and making a plan, and now it’s working on the plan.”

The free workshop is for municipal officials, including selectboards, councils on aging and boards of health, human services professionals, legislators, community organizers and concerned citizens. People can park in the municipal garage across from the transit center or on the street.

James Fuccione, senior director of Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative, and Lisa White, regional public health nurse with FRCOG, as well as Lynne Feldman, director of community services at LifePath, and Laura Kittross of Age Friendly Berkshires will be the presenters.

Lunch will be provided. To RSVP, call 413-774-3167, ext. 101, or email: registrations@frcog.org.

For more information, visit: frcog.org.

Reach Anita Fritz at
413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.


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