The New River Valley (NRV) Aging in Place Leadership Team recently developed 6 priority action items in the Aging in Place in the NRV Next Steps towards Building Lifespan Friendly Communities guidebook. These action items were developed based on feedback received at a 2014 workshop which explored financial, policy, and decision-making obstacles that interfere with NRV residents’ ability to age at home. 125 participants attended this workshop, including professionals that typically work independently: The Geriatric and Housing & Community Development Workforces. The event combined their expertise to discuss housing and service needs of our aging population.
The Lifespan Friendly Homes Program implements home modifications that improve mobility and energy efficiency for vulnerable seniors. A TimeBank provides a community-based network of mutual support in which members exchange services, encouraging connection to neighbors. A Regional Housing Survey collects data regarding the housing status of older residents and structural needs of their homes. The Aging in Place Services Connector enables older residents, family caregivers, and service providers to locate and access comprehensive information regarding local services that support older adults’ ability to live safely and independently in their homes and communities. Land Use and Development Policy examines how neighborhood design can facilitate successful aging, shifting towards a lifespan framework and changing the way housing is designed and built. The Age-Friendly Community Certification strengthens the livability of the region and promotes community engagement by adapting structures, housing and services to support residents regardless of age, disability, or need.
The guidebook raises awareness about supportive service and housing-related obstacles faced by older adults and caregivers; addresses policy that impedes aging in place; connects service providers with regional resources; and trains geriatric and housing & community development professionals on the intersections among successful aging, housing options and community design that extend independence and improve health and well-being for older adults.