AARP Works to Create Benefits for All Ages in Jackson, TN
Jackson and AARP work to ensure happy and healthy citizens.
In the next 15 years, 20% of the U.S. population is projected to be age 65 and older. Keeping communities vibrant requires a strategic vision to ensure residents of all ages have the opportunity to thrive.
AARP Tennessee is committed to working with cities and counties to turn ideas into action. Jackson, one of 12 age-friendly communities in the state, is working closely with AARP to rethink quality-of-life issues from mobility and transportation to housing and social interaction.
Accommodations Good for All
“We have 10,000 people a day turning 65 in this country,” says Rebecca Kelly, state director for AARP Tennessee. “Frankly, our cities, counties and towns are not ready for that influx.”
The age-friendly communities initiative helps municipalities prepare to meet the needs of an older population.
“We know from our research, more than 90 percent of Tennesseans want to age in place,” Kelly continues. “The more we can do to make our communities age-friendly, the better we can accommodate those wishes.”
Kelly says the eight domains of livability are focused on safe, affordable access to outdoor spaces, transportation, housing, social integration, social inclusion, civic participation and employment, health services and communication.
“We appreciate Mayor Conger’s vision for Jackson, and we look forward to being a partner as the city continues to take steps to becoming a more age-friendly community.”
Rebecca Kelly, state director for AARP Tennessee
“The principles and domains of livability are good for people at any age,” she points out.
Curbs that accommodate a wheelchair or walker also make life easier for young families pushing strollers. Similarly, adopting universal design concepts in housing adds convenience for all.
In fact, AARP research has shown well-designed, age-friendly communities not only make for happier, healthier citizens of all ages but also foster economic growth.
Keeping Jackson on the Move
When Mayor Scott Conger’s anti-poverty task force began identifying obstacles to success, transportation barriers were consistently a stumbling block.
“We discovered that our goal of affordable and accessible transportation is also shared by AARP,” says Lauren Kirk, director of performance management for the City of Jackson.
Last fall, AARP awarded Jackson a $35,000 grant to improve user experience on public transportation.
“We really applaud Jackson for proactively taking the initiative to enable the city to make improvements to its bus system and for earning the AARP Community Challenge grant,” Kelly notes.
The “quick action” grants are designed to rapidly move a plan off the drawing board and into use.
In January, the City of Jackson and Jackson Transit Authority debuted TransLoc, a smartphone app allowing users to track buses with real-time locations and receive estimated arrival times.
Available to all, the app makes it easier for older residents to maintain independence by being able to rely on public transportation to connect with appointments, shopping and social engagements.
“We appreciate Mayor Conger’s vision for Jackson, and we look forward to being a partner as the city continues to take steps to becoming a more age-friendly community,” Kelly says.
For more information on AARP and age-friendly resources, go to aarp.org/livability.