City Leaders Institute
America is aging. Today roughly 37 million Americans age 65 and older represent slightly more than 12 percent of the country’s total population. By the year 2030 the number of Americans in this age group will nearly double, accounting for one-fifth of the population—almost all of these people will grow old in their own homes. Communities will face unprecedented challenges to providing the services and infrastructure that this population will demand. Yet, if communities are resourceful, innovative and prudent, these challenges will be eclipsed by the enormous share of social, political and human capital that will be made available by embracing the older adult population.
The MetLife Foundation has funded Partners for Livable Communities to implement the MetLife City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place. This timely initiative is inspired by the successful Mayors' Institute on City Design that has helped prepare more than 800 mayors to understand and put into practice the components of urban design over the past two decades. The City Leaders Institute has adapted a process to focus on the assets, needs and attributes of the over 65 population and consider what this means for local jurisdictions. This is accomplished by working with local leaders to establish a local Aging in Place goa, engaging a broad array of civic players around the goal, and raising awareness among everyone of the importance of embracing the growing older population.
Ten communities have been selected by Partners and MetLife Foundation to participate in the second year of the program. All are involved in a variety of innovative projects that have potential for being models for others.
Alexandria will create a stakeholder group to roll out a replicable, area-by-area approach to creating viable, safe access for pedestrians, with particular emphasis on the older individual and the individual living with disabilities. This “Complete Streets” initiative goes well beyond transportation- it involves looking at aging in place on the whole, recognizing that access to places for seniors results in living healthier, longer, and with dignity.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville will engage the 50 and older population to determine what makes aging well in Asheville possible. As a result of the assessment, which will be distributed as a survey, Asheville will then create a model for aging in place that goes well beyond transportation, but certainly includes it.
The City of Chicago will create and implement the first phase of a volunteer drive effort to provide seniors, as well as people who are blind or visually impaired between the ages of 18-64, access to medical treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy. As the program takes shape, it will expand to include other types of trips.
Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri
Kansas City will engage the senior and youth populations in an intergenerational recorded history program, whereby stories of older adults and histories of neighbourhoods will be recorded, preserved, and utilized for the good of the community. Anticipated outcomes include older adults achieving a sense of purpose, and being considered valued assets within the community at-large.
Louisville will bring the city’s “Complete Streets” policy from concept to action. In the next 12 months the city will engage in a three-pronged effort of engaging, raising awareness, and celebrating successes. This will specifically involve: creating a Photo Voice initiative with older adults, where barriers to access will be identified and documented; identifying and executing at least two (one urban, one suburban) publically visible demonstration projects that respond to such barriers; and sharing these findings through a high-profile, community-wide celebration.
Memphis will address the needs of older adults in the region whose homes are not currently suited for aging in place. Through the formation of a public-private partnership, the team will: identify viable funding and volunteer sources, develop a set of criteria for determining necessary home modifications, and create an implementation plan for a kickoff event in March 2014. The Memphis team will develop a centralized system that determines the home modification needs of older adults, directs them to these services, and provides funding for those who cannot afford to make such changes themselves.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City will develop a process to insure that four senior centers set to be constructed in the city will be as inclusive, accessible, and encouraging of quality aging in place for the older individual, as possible. The process will involve asset mapping, utilizing universal design concepts, and incorporating lifelong learning, arts and culture, and health and wellness into the programmatic offerings of the centers.
Phoenix will offer site-specific instruction to assist older adults in accessing reliable transportation options that enhance their capacity to age in place. Some critical steps along the way will include the creation and distribution of “origin and destination” surveys, investigating transit plans to restructure paratransit, researching and developing metrics for cost-benefit analysis of free travel for individuals aged 65 and older, as well as identifying the specific steps and processes required by each pilot program.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City will utilize the opportunities provided by the creation of the Utah Performing Arts Center and branding of the “Cultural Core” to insure that the spaces and associated programs enrich the lives of older adults. Salt Lake City will also assist arts groups in discovering new audiences by way of the senior population. Structural concepts of universal design and ADA compliance will be factored into the creation of the center, as will programmatic concepts that are inclusive of the diverse population of Salt Lake City.
San Diego, California
San Diego will engage their senior, disabled, and veteran populations in the process of developing a one-stop shop of seamless, intuitive, inviting technology for the older individual to access transportation and other community-wide information. The system, named “OSCAR” (One Stop Community Access Resource), will come to fruition once the following has taken place: needs assessment conducted; design and functionality of system articulated; engagement plan developed; prototype testing done; and data from assessments and testing synthesized.
For more information on the City Leaders Institute on Aging in Place, please contact Vince Slevin at
or 202-887-5990 x103.