Age Friendly: Sharing ideas at Anchorage listening session

On a chilly Tuesday evening, Nov. 1, the beautifully renovated Anchorage Senior Activity Center was abuzz with chatter and activity as residents of Anchorage shared input on Anchorage as an Age-Friendly Community. The Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities (NAFSC), an international initiative, began in 2006 to encourage cities to be ready for rapidly aging populations by helping people thrive in their homes and communities as they age. The recent listening session was the program for the November gathering for Age Smart, a monthly forum on aging well sponsored by AARP Alaska, Older Persons’ Action Group, and Anchorage Senior Activity Center.

The program began with a light dinner provided by the Anchorage Senior Activity Center’s Arctic Rose Restaurant and a presentation by AARP Alaska volunteer state president Madeline Holdorf and state director Teresa Holt, who provided an overview of the age-friendly initiative, including detailed descriptions of each of the eight domains of livability: Health Services and Community Support, Transportation, Social Participation, Communication and Information, Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Housing, Respect and Social Inclusion, and Civic Participation and Employment.

After dinner, the audience was asked to select the domain most important to them and sit at the domain’s dedicated table for facilitated discussion. After providing input, participants moved to new tables, selecting a second domain. Discussion and sharing were lively, with many participants eager to share specific feedback about Anchorage’s successes and shortcomings in each domain.

Among the comments, attendees highlighted the needs for improvements in Anchorage’s public transit system, suggesting additional free days for seniors, monitored bus stops, new People Mover routes and expanded night transportation options for elders. Discussion about health services noted a “lack of easy-to-find information on how seniors can get assistance with medical appointment scheduling and finding community services.” From having store-to-vehicle escorts at the grocery to providing winter clothes for seniors to prevent slips and falls, attendees shared not only feedback but also great suggestions for making Anchorage age-friendly for all residents.

This was the first of a series of listening sessions AARP Alaska will be hosting in Anchorage to prepare an age-friendly Community Action Plan. To get more information on the Anchorage Age-Friendly initiative or to volunteer to help, contact Patrick Curtis at or call 907-268-7919.

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