By Lee Pullen, Marin County Aging & Adult Services Director
Jenay Cottrell, Area Agency on Aging Program Manager
When you imagine an age-friendly community, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a place that works for residents of every age by providing elements of adequate housing, mobility options, safe outdoor spaces, access to health and social services, good communication, and opportunities for civic engagement and participation, with respect for all its residents.
This is how the World Health Organization and AARP define an age-friendly community. Cities, towns, and counties — and even states — that wish to work toward these quality of life elements can become designated as Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.Ten out of 11 incorporated cities and towns in Marin County have done just this and are in various stages of making their communities more livable for people of all ages.
To help complete the picture, the County of Marin has also received designation by making a commitment to develop and implement plans within its county departments and for its unincorporated areas to address these factors. Creating an age-friendly County of Marin will not only support current older adult residents, but will help to prepare for the needs of and recognize the contributions of younger generations as they move into older adulthood.
This past year, an advisory committee consisting of community residents and department leaders from the Department of Public Works, Community Development Agency, Marin County Free Library, Marin County Parks, Cultural Services, Marin Transit, Marin County Fire and the offices of Supervisors Sears and Rodoni has been advising the development of this plan. To date, work has included community-wide surveying, focus groups in unincorporated areas, and interviews with residents and organizational leaders.
With 83 percent reporting they wish to remain living in their own residences and stay in Marin, it’s no surprise that there are concerns for the ability to maintain and afford their current residence, have flexible transportation options, be prepared for natural disasters, and have community connections to reduce social isolation and its adverse effects on health.
All the information collected from the assessment phase is being consolidated as of this writing. Recommendations will come forth in early autumn with an expected report to the Board of Supervisors in late October. In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact Jenay Cottrell, manager of the Area Agency on Aging, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 415-473-6947. You can also attend our monthly Commission on Aging meetings where updates are given on what’s happening throughout Marin to be more age-friendly and livable.