Posted by Kathy Burnes and Beth Soltzberg
Did you know that Massachusetts is one of only three “age-friendly” states in the nation? Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado have enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States, which means that their elected officials have made a commitment to making their state a great place to live for people of all ages.
The United States, like many countries, is going through an unprecedented demographic shift. Today, there are more people over age 60 than under 20 in the U.S. JF&CS is proud that Massachusetts is one of the first states to recognize both the opportunities and the needs brought on by this transformation. From the beginning, JF&CS has been a catalyst in the movement to make the Commonwealth more age-friendly.
Salem for All Ages
In 2013, based on the success of our work as a founding partner of Brookline Community Aging Network (BrooklineCAN), JF&CS partnered with North Shore Elder Services and the Salem Senior Center to reach out to Salem residents and organizations to identify what made Salem a good place to grow older and what could make it even better. We called our initiative “Salem for All Ages” – the name adopted by the city – and it provided important groundwork for the City of Salem becoming the first city on the North Shore to join AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2015.
The age-friendly movement has been paralleled by a global dementia-friendly movement, that aims to help communities become more inclusive, respectful, and safe for the growing number of people living with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder and those who care about them. Massachusetts has been a leader in bringing the age-friendly and dementia-friendly movements together.
In 2015, JF&CS hosted the “Toward a Dementia-Inclusive Community” symposium to explore innovative responses by communities around the U.S. and globally that improve livability and quality of life for those affected by dementia. Using the momentum generated by the symposium, the JF&CS Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program partnered with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) to launch Dementia Friendly Massachusetts, one of the first state programs to join Dementia Friendly America. JF&CS co-led Dementia Friendly Massachusetts with EOEA for the first two years and continues as part of its leadership team.
JF&CS also runs the Percolator Memory Café Network and the Dementia Friends Massachusetts public awareness program, which address the key issues of reducing social isolation and increasing public awareness.
Give Feedback for the Age-Friendly Massachusetts Action Plan
The issues of isolation and public awareness are both spotlighted in the new Age-Friendly Massachusetts Action Plan, which was recently released online. The Governor’s office is seeking feedback on the state plan on an ongoing basis. Please join JF&CS in working together to make Massachusetts more livable for people of all ages and abilities!
For more information about our age-friendly initiatives, please contact Kathy Burnes, Director of Services for Older Adults and Aging Well at Home, at KBurnes@jfcsboston.org. For additional information about our dementia-friendly initiatives, please contact Beth Soltzberg, Director of Alzheimer’s/Related Disorders Family Support Program, at BSoltzberg@jfcsboston.org.