ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced that the AARP has approved the Howard County Age-Friendly Action Plan, a transformational document and critical milestone to join the AARP Network of Age Friendly States and Communities. The report includes 80 recommendations across eight domains that influence the health and quality of life of residents. Howard County will work to implement recommendations over the next three years. To read the report, please click here.
When we make our community more walkable, provide better options to connect and engage with one another, and support more accessible housing – people of all ages benefit. Age-Friendly communities foster independence, allowing residents of all ages and abilities to have great access to our amenities and services. With AARP’s stamp of approval, we can move forward confidently and work to ensure all recommendations can be implemented.
County Executive Ball launched the county’s Age-Friendly Initiative in December 2019, which encompasses a three-to-five-year plan to be officially designated as an Age-Friendly community. During the past two years, more than 100 community members have worked to survey more than 3,400 residents, conduct research, and identify best practices. According to the U.S. Census, by 2030 one in five Howard County residents will be 65 or older, and 8,000 residents will be 85 years or older—double the number of people in that age group today.
The Action Plan provides recommendations in eight domains that influence the health and quality of life of older adults:
1. Outdoor spaces and buildings;
4. Social participation;
5. Respect and social inclusion;
6. Civic participation and employment;
7. Communication and information;
8. Community support and health services.
“AARP Maryland has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with stakeholders in Howard County as well as a robust team of volunteers living there who are dedicated to improving the lives of others,” said Jen Holz, AARP Maryland Associate State Director for Outreach. “The county has stood out in so many ways- from walkability, their approach to aging services, and multicultural inclusion. This Age Friendly plan is the perfect demonstration of their continued commitment to residents of all ages.”
“To implement the Action Plan, we need people who are willing to think differently, who are interested in making positive change. We need people who work in small and large businesses, in nonprofit organizations, faith communities, and government agencies. We need people who are retired, who aren't in the workforce and who aren't old enough to be in the workforce,” said Terri Hansen, Age-Friendly Howard County Manager. “Everyone is invited and encouraged to be part of making this plan a plan of action. It was a community effort in the planning and development. It needs an even wider community effort to implement it.”
“Howard County has a variety of transportation facilities and many safe and affordable modes of private and public transportation,” said Bruce Gartner, Director of the Office of Transportation. “But we can always do better and the action plan included in this report will benefit residents and visitors of all ages and abilities for years to come. Several of our recommendations are already underway including our WalkHoward and BikeHoward masterplans, bus stop improvements, and our Complete Streets policy."
“The words that come to mind when I reflect on Howard County’s Age Friendly Action Plan are promise and possibilities,” said Colleen Dumais Konstanzer, Neighbor Ride Community Outreach Director and Workgroup member. “Rather than being a stagnant checklist, it's a dynamic listening, and learning, and doing process that promises that our community will always be one of the best places in the world to grow up and grow old. It's a platform that challenges all of us to expand upon existing collaborative efforts and to identify new opportunities for partnerships that make it possible for us to do more and to do it better together.”
“The Howard County Age-Friendly Plan provides us with a dynamic road map that promises that Howard County residents can live in a friendly community aware of the needs and desires of its citizens in every stage of their lives,” said Fran LoPresti, Housing Workgroup Co-Chair. “It leverages all our government and community resources to provide the best life for our ever-growing senior population.”