How AARP is Working With Local Communities to make the Bay State more Age-Friendly

Posted on 06/26/24 by Ted Carey, Adrian Ramos


Sixteen communities across the Bay State are getting a boost in their work to become more livable for residents of all ages.

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Approximately 45 million Americans are age 65 or older. By 2030, that number will reach 73 million Americans. At that point, fully one in five Americans will be older than 65. By 2034, the United States will —for the first time ever — be a country comprised of more older adults than of children.

In Massachusetts, the 60-plus group comprised 24 percent of the population in 2020. Adults 60 and over in Massachusetts will soon eclipse the under-20 age cohort for the first time in recorded history. As the aging population of Massachusetts continues to grow, so does concern over unique issues we face.

A livable community is one that is safe and secure. It offers choices in where to live and how to get around. And it equitably serves residents of all ages, ability levels, incomes, races, ethnicities, and other backgrounds. 

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.

Livable Communities:

  • Enhance personal independence;
  • Allow residents to remain in their homes and communities as they age; and
  • Provide opportunities for residents of all ages, ability levels, and backgrounds to engage fully in civic, economic, and social life.
Check out the improved AARP Livable Communities Map - a free, interactive tool with information on the more than 1,300 AARP Community Challenge grantees and more than 800 members in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.

Walkable Streets

Walkability is also a crucial factor when it comes to a community being livable and age-friendly. How walkable is your community? Can you walk safely with crosswalks, speed limits, and properly timed walk signs? In many places, these crucial features are missing. In Massachusetts, alarming data reveals an average of 70 pedestrian deaths annually: reaching 101 in 2022 alone. To address this, walk audits step in. Walk audits involve residents & local leaders gathering to document car speed, traffic light/walk sign intervals, and more. These small steps have encouraged big adjustments in community walkability and safety. Scroll below to learn more about walkability. Access the award-winning AARP Walk Audit toolkit here.

Housing Options

Housing affordability determines whether individuals and families can live in a neighborhood without sacrificing other basic necessities such as health care. Low-income individuals and people living on a fixed income feel the effects of the nation’s affordable housing crisis acutely. Communities with a variety of housing options attract households of diverse sizes and income levels. They also support an individual’s choice to age in their home, in the community or in assisted living. Learn more about housing issues and check out AARP publications relating to housing.


A variety of safe, affordable, dependable and user-friendly travel options enables people of all ages to stay active and engaged in their communities. For some, regular, fixed-route public transportation services are ideal; for others, because of health, disability status or geography, more personalized services — such as paratransit, dial-a-ride, reduced-fare taxis or rides in private vehicles available through volunteer driver programs — are needed. Learn more about transportation issues and check out AARP publications about transportation here.

Want to get more involved with our Livable Communities work? Volunteer with AARP Massachusetts today, just click here.

Need help in your community, send AARP Massachusetts an email:

Other Issue Areas

Biking- Learn how to assess and report on the safety and bikeability of a street, intersection or neighborhood — and inspire needed change Click here

Community Gardens can improve the health of residents, foster economic development, combat social isolation, relieve food insecurity, improve public safety, encourage inclusion and enhance community connectedness. Click here to learn more

Public parks are important places for building a sense of community and social belonging. They are spaces that belong to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or income.
However, the way parks are designed and maintained may not reflect the purpose and promise of such uniquely public spaces. Click here to learn more

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8 Domains of Livability:

The availability and quality of these community features impact the well-being of older adults - and help make communities more livable for people of all ages. The 8 Domains of Livability framework is used by many of the towns, cities, counties and states enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities to organize and prioritize their work to become more livable for both older residents and people of all ages.

1) Outdoor Spaces & Buildings

2) Transportation

3) Housing

4) Social Participation

5) Respect and Social Inclusion

6) Work & Civic Engagement

7) Communication and Information

8) Community & Health Services

To learn more about the 8 Domains of Livability, click here.

This story is provided by AARP Massachusetts. Visit the AARP Massachusetts page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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