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How Prepared are America's Communities to Handle the Aging Boom?
Date:6/9/2009

Innovators in Four Locations to Hold Discussions on Aging in Place throughout June With Grants Available for Innovative Community Ideas

WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As part of a national movement to promote "Aging in Place" initiatives, four communities in America will be hosting workshops throughout the month of June, bringing local experts together for discussions aimed at helping older Americans remain in their communities.

Attendees also will learn how to apply for "JumpStart the Conversation" grants designed to help local organizations bring innovative ideas to life. The workshops are sponsored by MetLife Foundation, Partners for Livable Communities (Partners), and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).

The events taking place during the month of June include:

  • San Antonio, Texas -- June 11, Redesigning Communities for Aging in Place
  • Richmond, Virginia -- June 17, Engaging Community Leaders in the Process
  • Wichita, Kansas -- June 23, Revitalizing Communities for All Generations
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee -- June 30, Building Partnerships

The workshops are the latest in a two-year series of dynamic events with key innovators and representatives from specific regions looking to identify strategies for improving livability for those of all ages through: partnership building, community redesign and intergenerational connections. Local discussions complement the national conversation on aging and highlight the creative work being done to make communities first-rate areas for all ages.

According to the 2006 survey, "The Maturing of America -- Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population," a report led by n4a, Partners, the International City-County Management Association, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities and funded by MetLife Foundation, only 46% of American communities have begun planning to address the needs of the exploding population of aging Baby Boomers. The first Boomers reached age 60 in 2006 and will be 65 in 2011. This rapidly aging population will hit its peak in 2030 when the number of people over age 65 in the United States will soar to 71.5 million, double the figure for 2000, or one in every five Americans.

"This is both a challenge and an opportunity to make our communities better places for all age groups," said Sandy Markwood, CEO of n4a. "The efforts taking place in these regions are models for others across the country."

"JumpStart the Conversation" grants allow area organizations to take local action on Aging in Place initiatives. In each region holding workshops, nine grants of $1,000 and one grant of $2,500 will be awarded to support innovative ideas tailored to the community. Although applicants do not have to attend to be eligible for a grant, the workshops are meant to be a catalyst for action and to stimulate participants to begin considering their community's specific needs. The deadline for submission of grant applications will be two weeks following each event.

"Through the workshop and grant opportunities, communities will gain a renewed sense of urgency when it comes to considering community livability for all ages," said Robert McNulty, president of Partners. "We're looking to bring together an energized group of organizations and individuals in order to face the challenges that accompany this time of change."

Previous workshops have taken place in Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Kansas City, Chicago, San Diego, Charlotte, Miami, and most recently, in St. Louis. They have resulted in grant awards for such innovative projects as:

  • La Mesa Park and Recreation Foundation in San Diego -- spearheaded a group drumming project for older adults and youth, providing an opportunity for all to learn about rhythm and movement and to reinforce the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle that can be shared by all.
  • The Miami Behavioral Health Center -- promoted a "Mobility Maps" program to seniors in the Miami-Dade area that alerts seniors to different transportation options based on specific transportation needs.
  • Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens in Arizona -- developed new business partnerships with the 13 Chamber of Commerce organizations in the two-county area with the goal of creating age-appropriate jobs for older adult workers.
  • Thomas J. Brown, Jr. Foundation, Inc. of Kansas City -- recruited skilled professionals with experience in minor interior and exterior home repair and lawn maintenance to help older adults remain in their homes and neighborhoods as long as possible.

"This initiative is identifying creative solutions that will help America's communities meet the needs of an unprecedented population of aging Americans looking to comfortably age in place," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "MetLife Foundation is pleased to support these forums because these ongoing conversations will help create livable communities for people of all ages."

MetLife Foundation -- Established in 1976 by MetLife for the purpose of supporting education, health, civic and cultural organizations. In aging, MetLife funds programs that support healthy aging and address caregiving issues, intergenerational activities, mental fitness and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.metlife.org.

Partners for Livable Communities (Partners) -- A national, nonprofit organization working to renew communities for all ages. For more information, visit www.livable.com.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) -- A leading voice on aging issues for Area Agencies on Aging across the country and a champion for Title VI Native American aging programs in our nation's capital. For more information, visit www.n4a.org.

For more information on Aging in Place initiatives, upcoming workshops, and "JumpStart" grant recipients, visit www.aginginplaceinitiative.org

    MEDIA CONTACTS:

    Partners: Penny Cuff, (202) 887-5990 x101, pcuff@livable.com
    n4a: Helen Eltzeroth, (202) 872-0888, heltzeroth@n4a.org
    MetLife Foundation: Ted Mitchell, (401) 827-3236, tjmitchell@metlife.com


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SOURCE MetLife Foundation
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