Move helps communities prepare for aging population
Michigan has become the fifth state in the nation to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States.
Gob. Gretchen Whitmer announced the move, which is intended to help the state prepare for dramatic demographic changes and ensure that Michigan communities can take steps to accommodate people of all ages.
“Active aging is a life-long process and making communities more age-friendly is a commonsense policy approach for responding to demographic aging,” Whitmer said in her application letter to the AARP and the World Health Organization. “I look forward to continuing to work with (the AARP) on behalf of our residents to ensure that Michigan is a leader among states in healthy and active aging for all.”
The U.S. population is rapidly aging. By 2030, one of every five people in the nation will be 65 or older, according to a news release from AARP Michigan. By 2035, for the first time ever, the number of adults older than 65 will be greater than the number of children under 18.
The aging demographics are even more pronounced in Michigan, where residents 50 and older currently make up 37% of the state’s population. The percentage of people ages 65 and older will be greater than one in five, and the percentage of seniors ages 85 and older will double by 2050, the release noted.
By 2025 – 10 years ahead of the national projection – Michigan residents 65 and older will outnumber those younger than 18.
“It’s critical that Michigan takes steps now to make sure communities are ready to meet the needs of all ages as the population shifts,” said Paula D. Cunningham, state director of AARP Michigan. “We’re talking about everything from walkable downtowns and opportunities for work and volunteering to access to health care, housing and transportation options. We want to help make Michigan the best state it can be.”
The AARP engages with elected officials, partner organizations and local leaders to guide communities through the age-friendly network’s assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation processes, according to the release.
People of all ages benefit from the adoption of policies and programs that make neighborhoods walkable, feature transportation options, enable access to key services, provide opportunities to participate in community activities, and support housing that’s affordable and adaptable.
Well-designed, age-friendly communities foster economic growth and make for happier, healthier residents of all ages.
Eight Michigan communities have joined the Age-Friendly Network: Lansing, East Lansing, Jackson, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids, Highland Park, Royal Oak and Southfield.
Other states in the network are Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts and New York. The Virgin Islands, a U.S. territory, is also in the network.