Should You Move to an AARP Certified Age-Friendly Community?
America is becoming an older country every day. According to the AARP, by 2035 there will be more adults 65 or older than there will be children under 18. As people age, finding a place to retire that suits their lifestyle, changing abilities, and needs becomes very important. The AARP Network, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, is working to improve the livability of communities for people aged 50 or older and their families. Those efforts seem to be working, creating more livable choices for people looking for a great place to retire.
So far there are 575 cities and communities in the AARP-certified network. These communities are working to provide safe and walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life.
How can you tell if a community is age-friendly?
The AARP assesses livability for the cities in its network based on how well they deliver 8 domains of livability and age-friendliness. These include: Housing, Social, Communication, Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, Health Services, Respect and Inclusion, and Civic Participation and Employment. The cities are then ranked by their livability scores. Detailed results are shown for each of the 8 factors in each community, including a comparison of how each city compares to other U.S. communities on each component.
Madison, Wisconsin with a livability score of 66, is the highest-scoring mid-sized community in the AARP network. Three Wisconsin towns topped the list of small cities, which also had livability scores of 66 (Fitchburg, Sheboygan, and La Crosse).
As one example of a city in the network, Carlsbad, New Mexico has an overall livability score of 48. As it reported in its profile, Carlsbad’s age-friendly council worked to accommodate older residents and others with difficulty seeing Jobs Fairs for seniors, Alzheimer’s resources, and veteran services.
Is it worth moving to an AARP-certified community?
The AARP’s list of 535 communities and their rankings are a useful screening tool for people seeking a great place to retire. The scores on livability and age-friendliness provide helpful comparisons. All things being equal, it seems like you would be better off in a city that is striving to make life easy for people of retirement age. But a lot depends on many other factors too. How well did the city do in improving the factors that matter most to you? Are they meaningful enough to make a difference among your top choices? Your own factors like climate and cost of living might be more important to you. If there is a community that has something you really want, like the presence of your grandchildren or friends, or the lifestyle you have been dreaming of, that is a much better reason to select it as your retirement city.