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Guilford County: An Age-Friendly Community

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With nearly a quarter of the state’s residents expected to be age 60 or older by the year 2030, Guilford County took an important step to become a better place for people of all ages. The County recently applied for the World Health Organization’s status of “age-friendly” by joining the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities helps participating communities become great places for all ages by adopting such features as safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.

Guilford now joins Buncombe, Mecklenburg, Orange and Wake as counties working on “age-friendly” designation. All of these areas hope to remain vibrant and growing as North Carolina’s population both increases and ages.

Senior Couple

According to the Administration on Aging, the proportion of North Carolina’s population that is 60 and older is growing more rapidly than other components of the population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly 23 percent of North Carolina’s population will be 60 and older by the year 2030, an increase of more than 26 percent from 2012.

Executive Director of Senior Resources of Guilford Ellen Whitlock, who has been a strong advocate for this initiative said, “Well-designed, livable communities promote health and sustain economic growth, and they make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages.”

Communities that join the network focus on improvement in the following areas:

1.  Outdoor spaces and buildings
2.  Transportation
3.  Housing
4.  Social participation
5.  Respect and social inclusion
6.  Civic participation and employment
7.  Communication and information
8.  Community support and health services

Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing explains, “Joining a global network of communities that are committed to giving their older residents the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives has tremendous social and economic benefits for all.”

When it comes to business and economic development, AARP North Carolina Director Doug Dickerson says, “Aging can be a new engine for innovation, business development, and employment growth in the region’s economy. Opportunities abound in this space to support and facilitate healthy and active aging on the one hand and to care for the frail elderly on the other.”

AARP North Carolina President Catherine Sevier of Greensboro says, “Guilford County is helping lead the trend of communities in the U.S. that are preparing for the rapidly increasing number of older adults. Here in North Carolina, by the end of the next decade, 90 of the state’s 100 counties will have more people ages 60 plus, than those 18 and under. With Guilford’s participation, over 3.5 million North Carolinans live in areas working to become age-friendly.