Simple and Low Cost Ways for Communities to Assess Their Livability and “Aging in Place” Status

  Simple and Low Cost Ways for Communities to Assess Their Livability and
  “Aging in Place” Status

   How Small Towns, Big Cities and States Can Assist Their Populations and
                     Address Their Changing Demographics

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- March 5, 2013

Communities in the U.S. can follow a relatively simple and low cost initial
set of indicators to determine if their services meet the needs of an aging
population. These indicators can be measured using information that is readily
available and adaptable to local governments, providing a low-cost way for
local governments to begin to examine the specific needs of their aging
populations.

According to the study, Livable Community Indicators for Sustainable Aging in
Place, from the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Stanford Center on
Longevity, the best communities for people transitioning into the older age
group are those that offer accessible and affordable housing options,
transportation, walkability, safe neighborhoods, emergency preparedness and
support services like health care, retail outlets and social integration. The
study was produced as a follow-up to the Mature Market Institute’s previous
work in this area, Aging in Place 2.0, the  Aging in Place Workbook and
Housing Trends Update for the 55+ Market (with the National Association of
Home Builders [NAHB]).

“We know people generally prefer to remain where they are as they age,
connected to friends and family, and communities lose an economic and social
asset when older people leave,” said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the
MetLife Mature Market Institute. “With that in mind, we supported the
development of these indicators by studying the best existing tools and data.
Communities can now make assessments and begin to implement change with
readily available public data.”

According to Amanda Lehning, who collaborated with the Stanford Center on
Longevity on this report, “Every community is unique. Local governments should
think about how to adapt these indicators to best meet the needs of their
residents. Efforts to help older adults age in place can also potentially
improve the community as a whole. For example, older adults can make valuable
contributions as neighbors, caregivers and volunteers. They also patronize
local businesses and are a factor in tax revenues.”

Here are the most critical characteristics of an age-friendly livable
community:

Housing – Accessible/visitable housing that is affordable. Zoning laws that
permit flexible housing arrangements such as building assisted living
facilities or private homes on relatively small lots.

Transportation – This includes mass transit, senior transport programs,
walkable neighborhoods (safe for pedestrians), nearby parks and recreation,
roads with visible signage, adequate lighting, and adequate vehicle and
pedestrian safety at intersections.

Safe Neighborhoods – Low crime rates and emergency preparedness plans that
take the needs of older residents into account.

Health Care – An adequate number of doctors (primary care and specialists),
hospitals and the presence of preventive health care programs.

Supportive Services – The presence of home and community-based caregiving
support services and the availability of home health care, meals-on-wheels and
adult day care.

Goods, Services and Amenities – Retail outlets within walking distance,
restaurants and grocery stores offering healthy foods, and policies supportive
of local farmers’ markets.

Social Integration – Programs and organizations that promote social activities
and intergenerational contact. Places of worship, libraries, museums, colleges
and universities are often underutilized resources.

The study provides detailed information about these indicators and how best to
use them.

Methodology

The indicator system in the report was developed using three sources of
information: 1) A review of existing livable community and sustainability
indicator systems and checklists, 2) An extensive review of the existing
research literature on the community characteristics that impact elder health,
well-being, and the ability to age in place, and 3) Interviews with 19 aging
in place experts. The final list is based on: 1) Strength of research evidence
that the indicator is critical, 2) Strength of support for the indicator by
aging in place experts, 3) Ability to measure the indicator using existing
data sources, 4) The potential for multiple benefits, such as for the economic
and environmental health of the community, and 5) The degree of adaptability
to different types of communities, urban, suburban and rural.

Stanford Center on Longevity

The mission of the Stanford Center on Longevity is to redesign long life. The
Center studies the nature and development of the human life span, looking for
innovative ways to use science and technology to solve the problems of people
over 50 in order to improve the well-being of people of all ages.
http://longevity.stanford.edu

The MetLife Mature Market Institute®

Now in its 16th year, the MetLife Mature Market Institute is Metropolitan Life
Insurance Company's (MetLife) center of expertise in aging, longevity and the
generations and is a recognized thought leader by business, the media, opinion
leaders and the public. The Institute's groundbreaking research, insights,
strategic partnerships and consumer education expand the knowledge and choices
for those in, approaching or working with the mature market.

The Institute supports MetLife's long-standing commitment to identifying
emerging issues and innovative solutions for the challenges of life. MetLife,
Inc. is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit
programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and
affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States,
Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information,
please visit: www.MatureMarketInstitute.com.

METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, 200 PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10166

Contact:

DJC Communications
Debra Caruso, 212-971-9708
debra@djccommunications.com
or
MetLife
Meghan Lantier, 212-578-6734
mlantier@metlife.com
 
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