Age-Friendly Florida Sharing Symposium Inspires New Communities

Age-Friendly Florida Sharing Symposium Inspires New Communities

Posted on May 31, 2017 by Bob Carter
Florida Council on Aging (FCOA) held its 2017 Innovation Summit in Safety Harbor, Florida on May 4, 2017. Nearly 75 aging network leaders from throughout the state of Florida were in attendance with the theme: Community: Fostering Connections & Aligning Resources.

Leading off, Jean Accius, Ph.D., Vice President of Livable Communities Group at AARP Public Policy Institute, discussed creating livable communities that allow older adults to age with dignity, independence, purpose, and options. By expanding opportunities for people to age in the community as they choose, the resulting benefit extends to the entire population spectrum. Dr. Accrius briefly highlighted the efforts of three of AARP’s national network of over 160 Age-Friendly Communities: Montgomery County, MD, St Louis County, MO, and Sarasota County (Florida’s first age-friendly community).

Florida Communities Leading the Way was the title of a distinguished panel led by Jeff Johnson, Florida AARP State Director. Panelists shared select examples of new age-friendly housing developments, regional planning involving coordinated land use and transportation projects, as well as universal design retrofitting of existing housing stock with unique, accessible designs and features. There was a general acknowledgment of the need for our communities to accelerate the pace of change that influences current and future housing needs of older adults including affordability, options, and accessibility.

Richard Prudom, Deputy Secretary of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA), shared some sobering projections on the number of people living in Florida with dementia. He then highlighted DOEA’s new Dementia Care and Cure / Dementia-Friendly Communities Initiative with the goals of awareness, assistance, and advocacy. He stated that DOEA in concert with Memory Clinics throughout the state will be focusing on connecting resources, developing partnerships, and raising awareness. Leon County and Tallahassee were Florida's first dementia-friendly communities; Sarasota and Lee Counties will soon be joining.

Richard then shared demographic projection slides for the state of Florida. Sarasota’s demographics received special mention that in 20 years, Florida’s demographics will look like Sarasota County does today. He then shared timeline slides of DOEA’s Communities for a Lifetime program that has been closely aligned with AARP’s Livable Communities and the global Age-Friendly Community movement. To optimize resources and efforts, he indicated a much stronger collaborative effort moving forward with his final slide reading: The Department is partnering with AARP and The Patterson Foundation to promote the Livable Communities in Sarasota ... and beyond. It should be noted that The Patterson Foundation and Age-Friendly Sarasota were recognized multiple times throughout the Summit for leadership in this area.

The final presentation was Translating Ideas and Knowledge into Action. A multi-faceted panel again lead by Jeff Johnson shared a variety of observations and thoughts including: “care more about outcomes than process,” “local actions often matter most,” “keep the message simple,” and “align to make sure things happen.” It seems clear that multiple efforts related to the Age-Friendly Movement are now aligning. As the important message of communities building on their assets and aspirations to optimize healthy and engaged living for all ages continues to be shared, more and more communities are recognizing its importance and becoming part of the solution. Age-Friendly Sarasota is proud to be a part of all of this.

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