2. Joining an age-friendly community network

Communities may consider several pathways or models to become more age-friendly. One option is to  join an age-friendly network, which generally begins by obtaining municipal support, conducting a needs assessment (which brings in the voice of older adults and other community stakeholders), and/or building on existing assessments, and developing an action plan.

The steps to join the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities and the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities (the U.S. affiliate for the WHO Global Network) are outlined below.

Looking for information about Villages and other age-friendly community models?

WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities

To join the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, cities must:

  1. Complete an online application.
  2. Get a letter of support from the city’s Mayor and municipal administration.
  3. Begin the Network cycle of four steps:
    1. Establish mechanisms to involve older adults throughout the age-friendly network cycle.
    2. Develop a baseline assessment of the age-friendliness of the city/community, which includes building on existing assessments
    3. Develop a 3-year community-wide action plan based on the assessment findings.
    4. Identify factors to monitor the plan’s progress.

WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
The WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (the Network) was established to foster the exchange of experience and mutual learning between cities and communities worldwide striving to better meet the needs of their older residents. Use this website to browse the global network and learn how to join the network.

Resources

Global age-friendly cities: A guide (2007)
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
The purpose of this guide is to engage cities to become more age-friendly. It describes the converging trends of rapid growth of the population over 60 years of age and of urbanization, outlines the challenge facing cities, and summarizes the research process that led to identifying the core features of an age-friendly city.

The WHO network application process
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
This page includes information on application deadlines and process, with a link to the application form.

AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities

AARP is the U.S. affiliate for the WHO Global Network. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities helps participating communities become great places for all ages by adopting such features as safe, walkable streets; better housing and transportation options; access to key services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.

AARP works with local officials and partner organizations around the country to identify communities for membership in the Age-Friendly Network. AARP then facilitates the community’s enrollment and guides its representatives through the network’s implementation and assessment process. Any community that joins the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities will automatically be enrolled in the WHO global network by AARP International.

To join the AARP Network, communities must submit to a rigorous membership assessment cycle, including the following framework:

  1. Initiating the Effort
    1. Obtain the political commitment of the community’s elected officials.
    2. Organize stakeholders.
    3. Conduct assessments to identify needs.
    4. Establish an advisory committee that includes older adults.
  2. Planning
    1. Establish mechanisms to involve older adults throughout the age-friendly network cycle.
    2. Conduct a baseline assessment of the age-friendliness of the city/community.
    3. Develop a 3-year community-wide action plan based on the assessment findings.
    4. Identify factors to monitor the plan’s progress.
  3. Implementation
    1. Submit a progress report at the five-year mark.
  4. Evaluation
    1. Use assessment and monitoring factors identified in planning stage.
  5. Connecting
    1. Tap into the AARP resources, including research, models, and best practices.

Contact Kara Cohen, Community Outreach Director, AARP Massachusetts (kcohen@aarp.org) to learn more about the application process.

Resources

AARP Livable Communities
Source: AARP
Learn more about the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which is an affiliate of the WHO global network.

Age-Friendly Communities Tool Kit (2015)
Source: AARP
This tool kit provides a basis for guiding, supporting, and evaluating age-friendly initiatives in communities that participate in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which is the US affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program.

Browse more resources:

  1. Learn about age-friendly communities
  2. Joining an age-friendly community network
  3. Tool kits and guides for getting started
  4. Planning and baseline assessments
  5. Implementation and action plans
  6. Communication and message framing
  7. Other age-friendly community models

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