A community's journey toward age-friendliness

A community's journey toward age-friendliness

Posted on June 16, 2015 by The Patterson Foundation

Previously, we shed light on the behind-the-scenes work that led to Age-Friendly Sarasota’s community launch. However, our community’s path to a better future for all ages began years ago – with some telling statistics.

Our region, like much of Florida, is perceived by many to be home to a larger population of older residents. In 2010, this perception was quantified through data revealing that more than half of Sarasota County’s residents were age 50 or over – with one-third of residents who were older than 65.

These findings put Sarasota County at the forefront of a global demographic shift, spurring community conversations focused on the potential of our community's aging reality. This curiosity and desire to leverage our robust older population led to “Aging: The Possibilities,” a year-long community initiative facilitated by SCOPE in which more than 1,000 members of our community participated in conversations focussed on the possibilities that result from aging.

These conversations spurred on additional community efforts and organizations dedicated to exploring the aging landscape – including The Patterson Foundation’s initial work through its Aging with Dignity and Independence initiative, where Dr. Kathy Black conducted research examining the community’s aging experience.

With a wealth of up-to-date knowledge in aging, our community took the opportunity to share its progress and findings with thought leaders from around the country when the Institute for the Ages brought the 2014 International Conference on Positive Aging to Sarasota.

Over time, these efforts caused a shift in the way our community viewed its older population;  from an obstacle to a valued resource, while our collective knowledge of the realities facing older residents increased at a matching pace. Optimal conditions for partnering in our community paved the way for The Patterson Foundation’s support of an age-friendly community in Sarasota County.

  • A willingness to learn and explore the possibilities presented by our demographic

  • The readiness to adopt new and innovative ways to approach the aging space, along with the desire to do so in an exemplary manner

  • A culture that views age diversity as an asset to be utilized for the community’s benefit

  • The capacity to facilitate a partnership of leading organizations in aging with The Patterson Foundation’s support

  • Leadership and guidance on the key issues impacting livability – not only from major players and researchers, but from community organizations and residents working tirelessly for the aging demographic and residents of all ages

Age-Friendly Sarasota’s holistic approach requires more than support and resources from the top to have an impact. It needs endorsement and support from all levels of our community – from media and community organizations to individuals with a passion for making this community livable now and for future generations. Sarasota County’s strong history of innovative approaches to aging has cultivated a landscape ready to embrace this intergenerational approach.


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