First-of-its-Kind Rural Policy Plan for Massachusetts Includes Age-Friendly in Recommendations

Oct 10, 2019

The state’s Rural Policy Advisory Commission engaged in a comprehensive program of research and outreach over a two-year period, including listening sessions at ten locations across the Commonwealth in late 2018 and continuing in 2019 with over 20 focused stakeholder meetings to refine the information and develop the recommendations in
this first of its kind Rural Policy Plan for Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is excited that the Commission accepted its recommendations along with input from cities, towns and stakeholders in MHAC’s network to encourage rural communities to join the Age-Friendly movement – specifically pursuing the Age- and Dementia Friendly Community Compact Program.

The Community Compact is a best practice initiative for municipalities and regions established by the Baker Administration. This program has the potential for funding support and technical assistance. One of the choices among the best practices is Age-and Dementia Friendly.

The inclusion of Age-Friendly in this report also speaks to the state’s Age-Friendly Action Plan, which endeavors to embed “aging in all policies” across agencies and initiatives.

Rural areas of Massachusetts face different challenges than the rest of the Commonwealth. Unlike the economic growth engine of Greater Boston, rural areas are dealing with issues such as: small, aging and often declining populations; limited fiscal resources and staffing constraints; inadequate infrastructure and mobility options; and acute public health challenges. To help identify strategies and opportunities to address these issues, the Rural Policy Advisory Commission was created by the state Legislature in 2015 with
a mission to “enhance the economic vitality of rural communities.”

MHAC looks forward to collaborating with the Rural Policy Advisory Commission and rural communities across the state to assist those towns in becoming more age- and dementia friendly.