ARLINGTON — Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno and Council on Aging Director Kristine Shah are pleased to announce that the Arlington Council on Aging (COA) has finalized its Age and Dementia Friendly Action Plan.
As the Town of Arlington evolves and its residents age, there is an increasing focus on the quality of life, inclusivity and accessibility. Projections suggest that by the year 2035 almost one out of every three Arlington residents will be age 60 or older — 24% of the town’s population will be between the ages of 60 and 79, with an additional 7% ages 80 and older.
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. Following several years of research and planning, the final action plan was accepted by the Arlington Select Board by a vote in June.
“The Town of Arlington has many age-friendly activities and initiatives already ongoing, and the finalized Age and Dementia Friendly Action Plan will build on that existing momentum,” Director Shah said. “We are fortunate to have dedicated and passionate residents and stakeholders who are helping to spearhead this effort, along with the support of many town departments, local businesses and organizations who will help us achieve the plan’s goals. Overall, we hope to continue to strengthen the livability and age-friendly characteristics of our town.”
The plan was created with input from residents, community partners, local businesses, government leaders and aging experts. In 2019, the COA conducted a needs assessment through a focus group and an age-friendly survey, which gathered feedback from residents about challenges and barriers to livability in Arlington.
In 2021, the Town of Arlington partnered with the Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA) in the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston to begin the development of an Age-Friendly Action Plan that would address the identified barriers to livability.
The finalized plan features 10 age-friendly goals for improvement in the areas of housing, transportation and mobility, community supports and health services, social participation and inclusion, and communication and partnerships. The goals include:
- expanding housing options in Arlington and supporting home modifications that promote aging in place;
- enhancing existing transportation options;
- promoting ride-sharing services and volunteer transportation opportunities;
- addressing ways to contribute to the physical environment;
- exploring the expansion of home and community-based services to support aging in place and dementia-friendly practices;
- engaging adults age 55 and older in existing programs and developing new offerings to promote learning and wellness;
- promoting the accessibility of existing social programs to include and attract residents age 55 and older;
- increasing opportunities to promote mutual respect and relationships across generations;
- creating multi-media information channels and enhancing existing communication
mechanisms for town-wide information distribution; and
- fostering creative partnerships to improve equitable access to existing communication channels.
Each goal has multiple accompanying action steps that are expected to take place over the next one to five years.
The Department of Health and Human Services would like to thank Dr. Caitlin Coyle, Beth Rouleau, Nidya Velasco-Roldán and Rebecca Mailman of the University of Massachusetts Boston for their contributions to the report, as well as town-appointed COA members and associate members Pat Baillieul, Anne Brown, Sheila Connemey, Nancy Cox, Laura Liscio, Mary Hung, Michael Quinn, Anne Fitzgerald, Mara Klein-Collins, Bob Tosi, Jr., Marjorie Vanderhill, Rick Fentin, Karen Nichols and Paul Raia who offered guidance and feedback throughout the process.
The Arlington Age and Dementia Friendly Action Plan will now be distributed to community partners, local businesses and decision-makers in Arlington to help advance projects that will positively impact how older adults live.