In the year and a half I’ve spent developing Age-Friendly Sarasota’s communications, issues impacting older adults have become a daily consideration. Aging isn’t often a subject 20-somethings spend a great deal of time pondering – with the exception of each birthday that brings us closer to the dreaded 3-0, of course. Regardless of our aversion to the topic, aging is a natural part of life. Accepting it at an early age empowers younger generations to begin planning for the future well in advance, ensuring access to the assets we’ll rely on to maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.
Fortunately, this acceptance doesn’t require a dramatic shift in thinking about what lies ahead. The beauty of the intergenerational approach championed by Age-Friendly Sarasota and the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities is its focus on domains of livability that are relevant at every stage of life. Despite any “gray” connotations its name brings to mind, Age-Friendly Sarasota truly is a community for all ages. Two domains in particular exemplify the possibilities age-friendly movements can generate for their communities.
Low-cost home-design features like door levers, grab bars and low-threshold entries that enable people to continue living at home as they age have the added benefit of making any home more accessible to older family members and guests – not to mention people at any age living with disabilities. Shared housing models, a staple of budget-conscious young workers in the early phase of their careers, are gaining increased traction among older adults who wish to save money while avoiding social isolation. Affordable housing options within walkable distance to hospitals, arts and entertainment venues, shopping districts and other major community centers gives younger and older adults alike access to key amenities for our shared benefit.
More and more of us are moving away from cars as our default method of transportation – and the trend isn’t restricted to millennials. While the motives guiding this shift may be different for each age group – cost vs. diminishing vision, for example – people of all ages aspire to have access to a wider range of quality options to get from A to B. By bringing a diverse collection of people together, affordable and efficient public transportation also fosters interaction between generations that might not take place otherwise.
As Initiative Consultant Bob Carter wisely told me once, everyone is at different stages along the same aging journey. It’s a fact that highlights not only the connection between younger adults like myself and older generations, but also the opportunity each of us has to pursue enhancements that promote well-being for all ages.
Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.
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