Massachusetts Submits Age-Friendly Year Two Progress Report and Celebrates Older Americans Month

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced the release of the year two progress report for ReiMAgine Aging, the Age-Friendly Massachusetts Action Plan which serves as the state’s multiyear plan to make the Commonwealth more age- and dementia-friendly. Secretary of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs Elizabeth Chen submitted the report at a virtual event to AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa with communities and organizations engaged in the age- and dementia-friendly movement in attendance.

The virtual celebration was held to recognize May as Older Americans Month, release the year two progress report, and highlight the work in communities across the Commonwealth. At the event, community leaders spoke about their work in the age- and dementia- friendly movement and partner organizations presented highlights from the progress report.

The report represents the work of 2020 and highlights the age- and dementia-friendly efforts made by communities and organizations throughout Massachusetts. Throughout 2020 the age- and dementia- friendly network continued to demonstrate resilience, ingenuity, and the ability to adapt rapidly.

This past year, communities were a locus for innovation, with local organizations, residents, and volunteers pivoting to support older adults and communities in an unprecedented fashion. The report includes examples from all corners of the Commonwealth and represents a fraction of the many accomplishments that took place in 2020.

The full report can be found here.

“Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, we witnessed the resilience of communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Over the past year, organizations and individuals from across Massachusetts have stepped up to confront the pandemic and care for each other. This was especially meaningful for older adults.”

“We are grateful that this past year local leaders and community organizations came together in new ways,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We saw that the age- and dementia-friendly movement served as a foundation for communities to quickly identify and meet the needs of older residents.”

The Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts was established by Executive Order 576 in April 2017 and one of the Council’s recommendations was for the Commonwealth to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. The Commonwealth entered the network in early 2018 and submitted ReiMAgine Aging, the Massachusetts Age-Friendly Action Plan in 2019.

“The work of the Governor’s Council to Address Aging – the listening sessions held across communities, hearing from community leaders and from older people and caregivers – directly informed our decision to make the commitment to enter the network of Age-Friendly States. It also informed how we developed our plan to do the work,” said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, who co-chairs the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts. “We are grateful to the many communities and partners who help make Massachusetts a great place to grow older together.”

“Each May, we celebrate Older Americans Month. This year’s theme – Communities of Strength – is fitting for this moment,” said Executive Office of Elder Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Chen. “It has not been an easy year for anyone, especially older adults. But as much as this has been a challenging time, our communities have come together to demonstrate the power of collective resilience and the importance of building community.”

“AARP recognizes the power of livable communities and applauds the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for not only joining the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities but taking action,” said AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa. “The Commonwealth and its partners play a critical role in supporting community initiatives to create policies, programs, and spaces that benefit people of all ages.”

“Our strength comes from being committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said President of Tufts Health Plan Foundation and Vice President of Corporate Citizenship at Tufts Health Plan Nora Moreno Cargie. “Communities demonstrated how to be relevant. They responded with innovation, authentically engaging older people and, most importantly, harnessing the wisdom of all residents as they create neighborhoods that are great places to grow up and grow old.”

“This year’s progress report proves the power of partnerships in helping communities innovate and adjust,” said Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative Executive Director James Fuccione. “We’re excited that the movement continues to gain momentum statewide with over half of cities and towns, including Gateway Cities and rural communities, engaged in age- and dementia-friendly work.”

We are very fortunate that in Massachusetts – with the support of Governor Baker, Secretaries Sudders and Chen, as well as the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, we approach this work with an integrated age- and dementia-friendly lens to ensure that communities are informed, appropriately physically designed, and respectful of people living with Alzheimer’s and related dementia disorders as well as their care-partners,” said Dementia Friendly Program Director Massachusetts Patty Sullivan.

“At this time, we are proud to report that there are 60 communities that have signed a Dementia Friendly Pledge with another 25 in-progress to become dementia-friendly communities in the next year. With the significant increase in the number of people living with dementia as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Massachusetts Councils on Aging is proud to support communities across the state with this important work.”

The report demonstrates the strong foundation of the age- and dementia-friendly movement, as well as looks ahead to outline lessons learned and priorities to continue the momentum to create a Commonwealth that is a great place to grow up and grow older together.