An age-friendly community is a place that makes it easy for older people to stay connected to people that are important to them. And it helps people stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages and provides appropriate support to those who can no longer look after themselves.
LifePath, together with its partner Franklin Regional Council of Governments, is leading an initiative towards helping the North Quabbin and Franklin County become more age- and dementia-friendly.
The age-friendly process
The AARP lays out a three-phase process for becoming age-friendly: commitment, needs assessment and action planning, and implementation.
Phase 1: Commitment
27 of the 30 towns in LifePath’s service area have the designation of being an age-friendly community by the national organization AARP.
Phase 2: Needs Assessment & Action Planning
As part of the Age-Friendly project, we undertook a region-wide needs assessment, including a survey and focus groups, to identify what people think about aging in place here in Franklin County and the North Quabbin. The raw data was collected from almost 2,000 surveys and 4 focus groups, and LifePath will continue to work with our partner, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments—a remarkable resource—to produce a results-based overview of the collected data. The goal of the project is to use the data to identify priorities that we can work on as a region, and subregions, and to focus on what we can change in the short term and what needs longer range planning.
Initial results of the Age- and Dementia-Friendly survey results were shared virtually on November 1, 2022. Here are the resources from the event:
- LifePath’s Age- and Dementia-Friendly Survey Virtual Event recording
- Slide deck presented
- Raw data from the survey (.pdf format)
- Town-specific data (.xls format)
In the session, we asked for those interested in volunteering to dive deeper into this data, to become a part of work groups that convened around four areas:
- Housing and Outdoor Spaces
- Communication/Information/Social and Civic Participation
- Health Services/Community Support
Volunteer-based workgroups were tasked to understand what was being communicated “the loudest.” After 6 weekly sessions of inquiry and discussion, each workgroup came up with a problem statement for their theme, and related supporting statements.
Age-Friendly Community Conversation, June 22, 2023
About 70 individuals came together at Greenfield Community College’s Cohn Family Dining Commons for an in-person conversation and information session about the local Age- and Dementia-Friendly Project. The event kicked off with a resource fair featuring services for older adults, then moved into an overview of the project, sharing the results of the almost 2,000 voices who responded to the age-friendly survey, and interaction around ideas and solutions related to the initiative. To experience the event yourself, view the recording.
From the survey and related content, the problem statements from the workgroups, and feedback collected at the community conversation, members of the steering committee are currently producing the action items for the regional action plan.
Phase 3: Implementation
Implementation of the action plan involves the work of many stakeholders and may take 3-10 years.
The dementia-friendly project aims to raise awareness about and educate one another about dementia.
- June 2023 – Project update, event invite, transportation and education opportunities
- March 2023 – Workgroups and Action Planning
- Sept. 2022 – Focus groups and data analysis
- June 30, 2022, Program Manager Departure
- April 7, 2022, Survey Update, Public Health Nurse Particiation, Town Enrollment Update
- September 1, 2021, Needs Assessment and Enrollment Updates
- June 25, 2021, AARP Designation, Funding Opportunity, and Healthy Aging Spotlight
- March 23, 2021, AARP Designation, Funding Opportunity, Training Opportunities and Healthy Aging Spotlight
Stories from our blog about age- and dementia-friendly communities:
- Community Members Are Invited to an Age- and Dementia-Friendly Conversation June 2, 2023
- Age-Friendly Communities: Implementation and Success in Rural Areas April 14, 2023
- Making Tracks Toward Becoming Age- and Dementia-Friendly November 18, 2022