Five ways to make your community better for older adults Posted: April 18, 2016 Updated: April 18, 2016

Older adults are a special group of people. Their experiences provide younger generations with inspiration, guidance and even a funny story or two. Question is, what do we give back to them in return? The answer should be places and resources that help them continue to maintain their independence. OLHSA, in partnership with Area Agency on Aging 1-B, has advice below for ways that communities can become more age friendly.

  • Give people a place to rest

Adding benches to public areas, or publicizing the number in a downtown, sends a strong message that these places are age friendly and encourages those with health concerns to continue to venture out.  

  • Make streets safer

People who live in neighborhoods with age-friendly sidewalks are 47 percent more likely to be active than those without. Rally for well-marked crosswalks with streetlights that give older adults ample amount of time to cross busy streets and more lighting in areas with less vehicle traffic.

  • Reduce barriers at home

Less than five percent of homes in the U.S. are designed for people with moderate mobility difficulties. To increase safety at home, utilize services like OLHSA’s home injury control program that installs devices such as wall bars, shower chairs and tub mats in homes. 

  • Help people get around

A challenge older adults often face is no longer being fit to drive. By having organizations in place like Area Agency on Aging 1-B and Michigan 2-1-1 that connects individuals to transportation services seniors can continue to get to the places they want and need to be. 

  • Go straight to the source 

There may be areas for improvement specific to your community but without input from older adults identifying them can be difficult. The best way to understand what needs to be changed is gathering small groups of individuals 55 and older to voice their opinions on accessibility in and out of their homes. 

For more information the resources available through OLHSA’s Older Adult Services, visit www.olhsa.org/olderadultservices.