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County Executive Ball launches new Age-Friendly Howard County Initiative 

County Executive Ball launches new Age-Friendly Howard County Initiative 

December 3, 2019 

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the launch of Age-Friendly Howard County. The county is beginning a three- to five-year plan to join the AARP network of age-friendly states and communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization (WHO). Achieving this designation requires focused efforts on a “livable” community and making sure that Howard County is a great place to grow older and to grow up. A livestream video of this announcement can be found here and photos can be found here.  Here are video highlights:

“Over the last ten years, the average annual growth of our 65+ population has been nearly five times higher than our overall population and our student population according to Census data. Currently, 21 percent of Howard County residents are over 60 years old and in 25 years, this number will increase to nearly 30 percent,” said Ball. “Building an Age-Friendly Howard County is a long-term effort which will require a new way of working together: collaboration among citizens of all ages, with a great deal of input from older adults; and, businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, civic organizations, faith-based communities. and philanthropic groups. We are dedicated to serving our older adults through education opportunities, affordable living, a culture of wellness, and all the services you need and desire. The future of our community will be age-friendly, building on our strengths to provide the highest quality resources that enrich lives.” 

The plan will involve information gathering and outreach, creating and implementing an action plan, and evaluating the progress in several areas. Criteria to evaluate the health and quality of life of older adults include: 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, and 8) Community support and health services.

“With admission to the World Health Organization network, Howard County will benefit from inclusion in a global network of communities committed to giving residents of all ages the opportunity to live rewarding, productive and safe lives,” said Jennifer Holz, Associate State Director of Outreach of Maryland AARP. “AARP Maryland will support Howard County and its efforts every step of the way.”

As defined by the AARP, “In a livable community, people of all ages can….take a walk; safely cross the street; ride a bike; use public transportation; live comfortably; work or volunteer; enjoy public places; socialize; spend time outdoors; be entertained; go shopping; buy healthy food; easily get to quality medical care; find the services they need; and make their city, town, or neighborhood a lifelong home for everyone regardless of age, physical ability, income, cultural background, race, or other factors.”

Howard County is well on its way to meeting the criteria with existing initiatives such as Complete Streets, expanding RTA service, Livable Homes and Senior Tax Credits, investing in recreation facilities and 50+ centers, and building adherence to universal design guidelines in 55+ communities.

“This is an exciting day as we all come together as a community and dedicate our time and effort to begin creating an Age-Friendly Howard County,” said Jackie Scott, Director of the Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services. “This effort embraces our commitment to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to thrive and live their best lives.”

The age-friendly designation was created by the World Health Organization in 2006 to help communities prepare for aging populations. In 15 years, people over the age of 65 will outnumber children under the age of 18 for the first time in U.S. history. 

Residents can find more information about this process and opportunities to participate in community workgroups at www.howardcountymd.gov/agefriendly.

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