HOW PREPARED ARE AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES TO HANDLE AGING BOOM?
Hillsborough County, FL June 26, 2007
The Tampa Bay region today was the first in the country to host one of six regional workshops focused on creating livable communities for all ages, part of a national “Aging in Place” initiative undertaken by MetLife Foundation, Partners for Livable Communities (Partners), and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4a). The regional workshop, titled Crossing the Line: Developing a Livable Tampa Bay Region for All Ages, was hosted by Hillsborough County and held at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry.
At the workshop, Hillsborough County community leaders opened a dialogue across all sociological sectors, seeking new public-private partnerships to help the area prepare for the aging baby boomers population and the expected increase of older Americans in the coming years. The local Tampa discussion was planned as a complement to the dynamic national conversation taking place on aging and to highlight the work underway in the Tampa Bay region to make it a first-rate place to grow older. Attendees were given the opportunity to apply for a special grant after the workshop, which will be awarded to unique partnerships taking community-wide action to help retirees age in place. The grants are intended to stimulate innovative action at the local level.
Florida ranks first among all states with the highest percentage of residents over the age of 65 (17 percent), and with seniors making up 19 percent of the population in the Tampa Bay region, Hillsborough County was selected to host the first national workshop in the series. As baby boomers age, the number of retirees in this area is expected to increase, which will impact the community in a number of ways, affecting many essential services.
“Hillsborough County has been actively working on a comprehensive plan for aging,” said Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean. “Having businesses, governments, educators and providers work together is vital, because we can better plan for an aging society by working together. I am glad we are the first region in the United States to have this public-private dialogue.”
Pat Bean was joined by a number of key innovators, who addressed aging from a variety of perspectives. Mae Carpenter, Commissioner of New York’s Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services, discussed Westchester’s activities, programs and services, which are becoming known nationally as models for aging initiatives. Local representatives from the Tampa Bay area included: Jack Bowersox, Vice President of Welsh Senior Homes; Tim Dutton, Executive Director of Sarasota County Openly Plans for Excellence; and Larry Polivka, director of the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging and Associate Director of the University of South Florida - School of Aging Studies.
“Many people want to age in place,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president, MetLife Foundation. “This workshop provided a resource for communities as they plan to meet the needs of an unprecedented older population. The goal is to create livable communities for all ages, young and old alike.”
As a result of the workshops and grant opportunities, Hillsborough County officials believe communities will have a renewed sense of urgency to approach community livability for all, as well as an energized group of organizations and individuals collaborating to face the challenges that accompany this time of change.
“We’re hoping to see some new public-private partnerships grow out of this workshop,” said Robert McNulty, president of Partners for Livable Communities. “We’re seeking to attract a diverse group of participants who will see common opportunities and are willing to cross the boundaries and get to work immediately on common interests to improve livability for all ages.”
Partners for Livable Communities is a national, nonprofit organization working to renew communities for all ages. For more information on Crossing the Line: Developing a Livable Tampa Bay Region for All Ages, or any of the other workshops planned in the national series, visit www.livable.com, or contact Irene Garnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Aging in Place Initiative, visit www.aginginplaceinitiative.org
The MetLife Foundation was established in 1976 by MetLife for the purpose of supporting education, health, civic and cultural organizations. For additional information, visit www.metlife.org
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is a leading voice on aging issues for Area Agencies on Aging across the country. For additional information, visit www.n4a.org.