GREENWICH — Armed with new data in hand, the Greenwich Commission on Aging is moving toward an action plan to meet the needs of the growing population of seniors in town.
The plan comes as the next step in the town’s effort to receive a designation as an Age Friendly Community by the AARP and the World Health Organization. That would allow Greenwich to join a network of communities across the country that are developing sustainability plans and providing resources and assistance to seniors.
According to Lori Contadino, director of the Commission on Aging, survey results are being used to draft an action plan for the advisory board in mid-June. The goal is to have a final plan for the Board of Selectmen in September.
“The goal of this action plan is to enhance the age friendliness and livability of the town of Greenwich,” Contadino said. An age-friendly as “has structures and services that are accessible and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities emphasizes enablement rather than disablement and is friendly for people of all ages and abilities.”
Contadino said they are trying to move Greenwich toward a future that fosters physical, social and service environments that would make Greenwich a community for all ages. And the time to do this is now, she said.
“In 2016, there was a Greenwich United Way Needs Assessment that found 17.5 percent of the town of Greenwich was over the age of 65 and they projected that number would increase to 19.5 percent of our population by 2020,” she said. “These are compelling reasons for Greenwich to be involved in this process.”
Contadino was part of a three-member panel Wednesday night that discussed the findings of a survey completed last spring of town seniors. She was joined by Steven Katz, vice chair of the commission’s board, and Bill Armbruster, manager of the AARP’s network of age friendly states and communities.
The survey, with 1,805 full responses, found strong support for such amenities as well-lit streets and intersections, safe parks, easy to read traffic signs, sidewalks in good repair, well-maintained public buildings, special transportation services, public restrooms and opportunities for physical fitness.
A few things that stood out in the survey, Katz said. A total of 91 percent of respondents said it was either very important or somewhat important to stay in Greenwich as they aged, he said. But when asked if it was likely they would move outside of Greenwich upon retirement, 63 percent said they were very likely, somewhat likely or not sure. He said that showed there is a lot of work to be done.
Armbruster said it was important for Greenwich to be involved as an Age Friendly Community because it could benefit the growing population of seniors. Without the organization, he said, services may not be connected or cohesive.Read Full Article
“You have the opportunity to bring all these actions and items together under an umbrella,” Armbruster said. “And you also create partnerships that you probably wouldn’t have before. You can come together with like agencies and organizations. There can be the creation of volunteer opportunities. Not only can you do this, you can do it at a whole other level.”
The age-friendly community designation is built around the idea that there are “eight domains of livability” to address senior needs and make a town into a place worth living in. They are: community support and health services, outdoor spaces and building, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, and communication and information.
The Board of Selectmen gave its authorization for Greenwich’s participation back in 2016, and it is a five-year process to gain the designation. Approving an action plan occurs in the second year. In years three through five, the plan will be implemented and revises made.
The program started in 2012 with nine communities. As of this week, Armbruster said it would be up to 345 communities. Greenwich was the first in Connecticut to join, followed by Newtown, Glastonbury and Simsbury.
Wednesday’s presentation attracted a crowd of more than 40 to the Bruce Museum, including town Selectman John Toner and Director of Health Caroline Calderone Baisley. There were also representatives from several area agencies, including The Nathaniel Witherell, At Home In Greenwich and River House Adult Day Center.