Erie County is the newest member of the AARP’s Age Friendly Community Initiative. The effort works to address issues facing all generations, but specifically people over the age of 50.
AARP Associate State Director Bill Armbruster says the multi-year initiative will begin with one year of listening to topics of interest within the community.
“Some of the things we’re hearing about is affordable housing. What does that look like as people age?
We’re also dealing with the affects of suburban sprawl, that a bigger part of the older population lives out in the suburbs. So, having access to a car, access to services. How do we let people stay in their homes, stay in the community, while still letting them live where they want to be?,” said Armbruster.
The age-friendly changes could include things like more visible traffic signs, broader road striping and bus stops with benches. The initiative is collaboration between AARP, Erie County, New York State Office for the Aging, and the University at Buffalo’s Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, or IDeA, Center.
The effort will also allow other municipalities that are members of the effort to provide mentoring and information-sharing services. Armbruster says the effort is crucial since people over the age of 50 make up 21% of Erie County’s population.
“We’re looking at the last of the Boomers who are turning 50 this year and they want to redefine how they age, what their community is going to look like. So, I think we’ll have a lot of info on this as people start to tell us and let us know what they want Erie County to look like for their future,” said Armbruster.
Armbruster says more information about how to get involved will be given out once dates are confirmed.