ARLINGTON — Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno and Council on Aging Director Kristine Shah are pleased to announce that the Town of Arlington has been named a top scoring small city in the AARP Livability Index, and would like share the ongoing work by the Town and the Council on Aging that is improving the livability of Arlington.
The AARP Livability Index scores neighborhoods and communities across the country on the services and amenities impacting residents most. The factors that are evaluated include housing affordability and access, neighborhood proximity and security, transportation safety and convenience, environment, civic and social involvement, access to and quality of health services, and opportunity. More about the scoring process can be found here.
Arlington received a livability index score of 65 out of 100, which is in the top half of communities in the U.S. The Town scored above 70 in the categories of neighborhood, transportation, health and opportunity.
The Town of Arlington is also a member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities which provides communities with the resources to become more age-friendly and livable for people of all ages, especially older adults. It encourages states, cities, towns and rural areas to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population by paying increased attention to the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being of older adults.
The initiative recognizes that the population of the U.S. is rapidly aging, and aims to help communities prepare for this trend. Age-Friendly Network membership signifies that a community’s leadership has made a commitment to actively work with residents and local advocates to make their town, city, county, or state an age-friendly place to live.
In January, the Arlington Council on Aging completed its Age and Dementia Friendly Action Plan. The plan highlights many future plans and action steps to improve social and physical environments and make communities livable for older residents, while also prioritizing members of the community living with dementia and their families.
“Residents aged 60 and older make up the fastest growing segment of our population. Arlington seniors are especially vibrant, leading active lives and advocating in our community like never before,” Director Shah wrote in the plan’s introduction. “The goals in this plan serve to inspire all our residents, regardless of age or ability. It not only represents our shared values but also our shared optimism for a brighter future. I believe implementation of this plan will strengthen our community and help make Arlington an even better place to live.”
Some of the plan’s action items include expanding housing options and supporting home modifications that promote aging in place, as well as promoting awareness of these options; ensuring the safety and walkability of sidewalks; promoting ride-sharing services and volunteer transportation opportunities; increasing awareness of aging in place resources and expanding health and wellness services for older residents; building upon educational opportunities and resources for people living with dementia and their caregivers; promoting existing social programs to include and attract residents age 55 and older; and ensuring communication channels are in place and are accessible by the senior population to communicate about emergencies, resources, services and events.
The plan was created with input from residents, community partners, local businesses, government leaders and aging experts. It will be distributed to community partners, local businesses and decision makers in Arlington to help advance projects that will impact how older adults live.
“We pride ourselves on ensuring the Town of Arlington is a comfortable, engaging and safe place for people of all ages and life stages to call home, and we are pleased to be recognized through the Livability Index for these efforts,” Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine. “Since becoming an Age-Friendly community in 2017 and in our work to become a Dementia Friendly community, we have thoroughly evaluated our town’s environment, policies, resources and opportunities, and our Council on Aging team has put together a plan to identify the areas we can supplement. These initiatives will improve the quality of living for everyone in our community and ensure Arlington is a lifelong community.”
In addition to the age-friendly work being done around town, the former Senior Center has reopened as the Arlington Community Center. The renovations began in March 2020 and the new community center formally reopened on Thursday, April 28.
The new space includes an art room, areas for socialization and casual conversation, workspaces with internet access, a café, a library, a yoga room, a games room and lounge with two tournament-size pool tables, and a new commercial kitchen for cooking classes and nutrition seminars.
The kitchen will also be used by Minuteman Senior Services for Meals on Wheels and congregate dining. Community members will be able to rent several of the building’s spaces for meetings and events. The commercial kitchen will also be rented out for events, by caterers or by entrepreneurs.
The community center’s new furnishings were funded through contributions from the community, and local families and businesses sponsored the café, library, art room, pool room, games room and yoga room.
“Even with the many age-friendly practices we have in place community-wide, we realize that having a high quality of life requires continuous improvement,” Director Bongiorno said. “We are always looking at what we can do better and what new initiatives and resources will benefit our community, such as the redesign and reconfiguration of the community center and the social services and activities it will offer to all of Arlington’s residents.”
Community members are invited to attend a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the reopening of the Community Center on Thursday, May 5 at 5 p.m. Town officials will offer remarks and a brief tour of the building renovations and improvements will follow. Click here to read more.