Age-friendly work in Anchorage and Juneau moves to year two

Alaska’s work creating “Age-Friendly Communities” is thriving, making the places we live better able to support people of all ages. The age-friendly program process began with Anchorage’s enrollment in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities as the 678th community nationwide, with Juneau following shortly thereafter as the 734th member.

As AARP Alaska enters the second year of membership in the Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, efforts are focused on community needs assessments in both Anchorage and Juneau. The assessments are an avenue to involve older residents in all the stages of an age-friendly process through walk audits, questionnaires and in-person or virtual listening sessions. The assessment process looks at each community’s “built” and “social” environments, including housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, health services and community supports, social participation, respect and social inclusion, communication and information, civic participation, and employment. The availability and quality of these community features impact the well-being of older adults and people of all ages.

As part of their community assessment, Anchorage’s age-friendly team recently shared the results of a 2022 walk audit in the downtown area (5th and 6th Avenues between Gambell and Ingra) with livability partners nationwide as well as the Fairview Community Council. In Juneau, the age-friendly team joined with their local Commission on Aging in sponsoring three listening sessions to solicit information for future planning. They plan to solicit feedback throughout the summer to make sure all segments of the community have opportunities to share real life experiences, comments and concerns for an action and evaluation plan.

Age-friendly planning includes a five-year process of continuous improvement. The first two years of engaging the community, establishing teams, and completing the assessment result in the formation of a community action plan. Once adopted, plan implementation and evaluation are carried out during years three to five. By the conclusion of the initial five-year period, the community should have made meaningful progress toward the goals laid out in the action plan and be able to revise the plan as needed. Then the next five-year planning process begins.

The Anchorage and Juneau leadership teams have the mission to foster livable, age-friendly communities that promote neighborhood cohesion and maximizes ways for residents to be active and engaged with neighbors, family and friends. If you are interested in joining the effort to make Anchorage or Juneau more age-friendly, contact Patrick Curtis at 907-268-7919.

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