Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Age Friendly Action Plan Aims to Make Region Better Place to Grow Old

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Age Friendly Action Plan Aims to Make Region Better Place to Grow Old

Article excerpt

AARP volunteer Linda Wortham is one of Allegheny County's 220,000 residents 65 or older but is adamant that she and many like her are still productive, vibrant individuals who should be embraced and supported by the community.

The 67-year-old East Liberty resident, who volunteers in her church and local theaters, is thus among those welcoming the new Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh action plan as a blueprint for how to make the city, county and region better for older adults. That's especially the case for individuals like her - someone who got on a bicycle recently for the first time in four decades - who want to remain active.

"That desire to enjoy life doesn't diminish as we age," she said when the AARP-supported Age-Friendly plan was presented at a City-County Building ceremony Tuesday. "It is important to ensure the Greater Pittsburgh area is age-friendly so our streets are safer, our homes and facilities are easy to access as we get older, and we have the opportunity to connect socially and give back to our community."

Pittsburgh is among nearly 200 communities nationally that have joined AARP's Age-Friendly project, originally initiated by the World Health Organization, to create better environments for the aging population. Participating cities commit to two years of planning to produce a report like the action plan unveiled Tuesday. They are to spend the next three years working to implement whatever goals are outlined, which vary widely with each community.

Although Allegheny County and city of Pittsburgh officials have partnered in the local effort, Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh has largely been a grassroots, volunteer project led by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging, a nonprofit multi-county advocacy group. Project leaders stated more than 100 organizations and 800 residents participated in meetings over the past two years that led to the action plan, which contains 30 recommendations under three themes:

* Accessibility needs to be emphasized and improved through means such as safer sidewalks and intersections, creative transportation options, redesign of senior housing and better information/referral services for seniors. …

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