Communities in the U.S. can follow a relatively simple and low cost initial set of indicators to determine if their services meet the needs of an aging population. These indicators can be measured using information that is readily available and adaptable to local governments, providing a low-cost way for local governments to begin to examine the specific needs of their aging populations.
According to the study, Livable Community Indicators for Sustainable Aging in Place, from the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Stanford Center on Longevity, the best communities for people transitioning into the older age group are those that offer accessible and affordable housing options, transportation, walkability, safe neighborhoods, emergency preparedness and support services like health care, retail outlets and social integration. The study was produced as a follow-up to the Mature Market Institute’s previous work in this area, Aging in Place 2.0 , the Aging in Place Workbook and Housing Trends Update for the 55+ Market (with the National Association of Home Builders [NAHB]).
“We know people generally prefer to remain where they are as they age, connected to friends and family, and communities lose an economic and social asset when older people leave,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “With that in mind, we supported the development of these indicators by studying the best existing tools and data. Communities can now make assessments and begin to implement change with readily available public data.”
According to Amanda Lehning, who collaborated with the Stanford Center on Longevity on this report, “Every community is unique. Local governments should think about how to adapt these indicators to best meet the needs of their residents. Efforts to help older adults age in place can also potentially improve the community as a whole. For example, older adults can make valuable contributions as neighbors, caregivers and volunteers. They also patronize local businesses and are a factor in tax revenues.”