7. Other age-friendly community models

In addition to the WHO and AARP age-friendly community networks, and the Dementia Friendly community work, other models and initiatives exists to support communities in becoming more age-friendly across Massachusetts and the U.S., including:

  • Community Compact Program
  • The Village Model

Community Compact Program

Established by Governor Charlie Baker’s Administration, the Community Compact Program, is a “best practice” program for municipalities. Every city and town can choose from a wide-ranging menu of strategies and initiatives that improve community life and function.

Through MHAC’s advocacy and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging recommendations, this program includes “Age- and Dementia Friendly” as a best practice. This presents another way to receive recognition while also carrying the potential for funding support to help advance the effort. To date, nearly ten communities have engaged in an Age- and Dementia Friendly Community Compact.

The Village Model

The Village model offers an option for meeting the needs of the growing older population by making it possible for people to stay in their communities and “age in place.” Neighborhood residents create villages to help coordinate and deliver services and supports within their communities.

The Village model was first pioneered by Beacon Hill Village, which is a member-driven organization for Boston residents age 50 and over. Beacon Hill Village provides programs and services so members can lead vibrant, active, and healthy lives while living in their own homes and neighborhoods. Since enrolling its first members in 2002, the Village model has spread to communities across the state and the U.S., which are connected by the Village to Village Network.

The Village to Village Network (VtV) is a national peer-to-peer network to help establish and continuously improve the management of their own villages whether in large metropolitan areas, rural towns, or suburban settings. The mission of VtV is to enable communities to establish and effectively manage aging in community organizations initiated and inspired by their members.

In 2017, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs created a resource and listing of the Village models that existed at that time. Others can be found on the VtV network map.

Other sectors with age-friendly initiatives can collaborate and be supportive of age-friendly communities. These include:

Age-Friendly Health Systems

Age-Friendly Health Systems are an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in partnership with the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).

Becoming an Age-Friendly Health System entails reliably providing a set of four evidence-based elements of high-quality care, known as the “4Ms,” to all older adults in a hospital or health system. When implemented together, the 4Ms represent a broad shift by health systems to focus on the needs of older adults.

To better understand how Age-Friendly Health Systems and Age-and Dementia Friendly Communities can align and benefit each other, the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative created this guide called “Beyond the 4Ms: Connecting Age-Friendly Health Systems to Age- and Dementia Friendly Communities.”

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is proud to support a cooperative effort in Springfield, which was the first community in the country to be Age-Friendly, Dementia Friendly, and have an Age-Friendly Health System working in alignment.

Age-Friendly Public Health Systems

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) has launched an Age-Friendly Public Health (AFPH) initiative to make the health and well-being of older adults a public health priority.

With funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation, TFAH is partnering with the Florida Department of Health to implement a public health framework to improve the health and well-being of older adults, focusing on areas where public health can support, complement, or enhance aging services.

The initiative will promote the innovative aging work in Florida already underway, including the implementation of Age-Friendly Communities, which help to build rapport between the public health and aging sectors and contribute to a national movement to advance an age-friendly public health system. Among the possible outcomes will be an increase in public health engagement in the “age-friendly communities” movement, the release of community-wide health data reports about older adults that will be useful for policymakers and the public, and the targeting of existing community-level public health programs (such as home visiting, immunizations, and screening) to older adults. In the process, we will learn more about the necessary steps for success so they can be shared with the public health systems in other states.

Age-Friendly Universities

The Age-Friendly University (AFU) network consists of institutions of higher education around the globe who have endorsed the 10 AFU principles and committed themselves to becoming more age-friendly in their programs and policies. The Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) endorses the AFU principles and invites its members and affiliates to call upon their institutions to become part of this pioneering initiative.

Many AFU leaders are based at universities in Massachusetts and partner with MHAC.