It is no secret that the population of the United States is rapidly aging. By 2030, one of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 years of age or older; and by 2035, the number of adults older than 65 will be greater than the number of children under 18. I am running a few minutes late; my previous meeting is running over.
These realities are why AARP staff and volunteers began working throughout the nation to engage and mobilize communities, share expertise, and deliver technical assistance to the towns, cities, counties and states in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.
In response to the opportunity to create age-friendly environments in the Leigh Valley, the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley collaborated with AARP Pennsylvania and other community leaders, organizations, and residents to create Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley.
By working in partnership with Lehigh County and Northampton County leadership, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and many others, Age-Friendly Lehigh Valley gained membership into the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and an Age-Friendly Action Plan was created. As part of the plan’s creation, the Lehigh Valley became the nation’s first dual-county community to receive certification in the World Health Organization/AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.
On November 28, 2022, the group’s multi-year work culminated in the Lehigh Age-Friendly Action Plan being officially endorsed.
The Plan is considered a “living document” developed and vetted by an active and engaged community and serves as a collective community pivot from programs and services targeted to the individual to initiatives designed to serve the Lehigh Valley community as a whole. It serves as a call-to-action to change attitudes toward ageism, equity and inclusion and outlines the community tools needed to ensure that age-friendly programs, services and policy are available and accessible to all.
To view the full action plan, visit AgeFriendlyLehighValley.org.
At AARP, we know that neighborhoods are where we care for our families, launch new businesses, and plan for the future. We also know the most livable communities are those that enable residents to thrive at every age and every stage of life. In other words, they are “age-friendly.”
Membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities demonstrates the Lehigh Valley’s commitment to continue to actively work to make certain our counties are a great place for everyone to live. In her closing remarks at the press conference acknowledging the endorsement of their action plan, AARP’s Associate State Director of Outreach and Advocacy in the Lehigh Valley, shared these thoughts, “The need for communities to recognize and incorporate the needs of residents of all ages cannot be understated. In just a little over 7 years - - by 2030 - - over 77 million baby boomers will be 65-plus. We applaud Lehigh Valley for embracing this reality, for making this commitment, and we look forward to continuing to working with you to ensure that the Lehigh Valley has the appropriate infrastructure in place to enable people to stay independent and participate in community life.”
AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas to be great places for people of all ages. We believe that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.
This blog was written by Teresa Osborne, State Advocacy Director; and Kellie VonStein, Associate State Director of Outreach and Advocacy
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