Throughout northern New England, communities are developing infrastructure, programs, activities, and policy to make it easier for residents of all ages, especially older folks, to be as actively engaged in community life as they want to be. We think of these as “lifelong” communities-places that are great for everyone from 8 to 80!
The movement is gaining momentum throughout northern New England. In some places, the municipality as a whole adopts a planning model that thinks about aging when policy or infrastructure changes are made. In other communities, groups of residents are working together to address specific needs, such as housing, transportation, social participation, and accessibility.
As more cities, towns, and villages implement programs, a wealth of knowledge and resources has developed to guide people through the process of getting started.
The lifelong community development approach views each community, its leaders, and citizens as experts about the type of change that will work best. However, there are a few steps that can increase the likelihood that a lifelong community initiative will successfully make changes that increase the quality of life of older residents.
It is important to have local champions who can build enthusiasm for making lifelong community changes and who can motivate residents, local government, and other stakeholders to work together to start an initiative.
The first step is for a community champion to build a steering committee with people from various backgrounds who share a commitment to making the community a better place to live.