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home : health : health November 17, 2017


10/24/2017 1:10:00 PM
Town hall on age-friendly cities set
By Sue Stafford


A free town hall on age-friendly cities will be held on Friday, November 3 at 2 p.m., in the Sisters Community Church auditorium, 1300 W. McKenzie Hwy.

Featuring Dr. Margaret Neal of Portland State University, who will discuss the initiative to create age-friendly cities, the forum is co-sponsored by the Sisters Senior Alliance, Citizens4Community, and the Central Oregon Health Council.

Dr. Neal will talk about how Portland was the only city in the United States chosen to participate in the original World Health Organization project involving 33 cities in 22 countries. The objective of the program for WHO was to identify concrete indicators of an age-friendly city and to produce a guide to stimulate advocacy, community development, and policy change to make cities more age-friendly.

For the participating cities the objective was to increase awareness of local needs, gaps and ideas for improvement in order to stimulate development of a more age-friendly city.

With an increasing aged population, the most rapidly growing group being 85 and up, older adults have enormous economic clout as consumers, stimulating new companies, products, services and technologies, and bringing tourism dollars to an area.

Sisters - a town whose economy is tourism-based - is a logical location to become an age-friendly town. According to a number of studies, the segment of adults age 55-plus has been shown to be the group that will increase the overall volume of tourism the most. Not only the substantial numbers, but also the increased financial means and time flexibility make the older-adult consumer segment attractive to tourism.

Age-friendly cities offer a continuum of housing options and supportive services, reducing the need for elders to move and to prevent or postpone public and private expenditures for long-term institutional care.

There are three important environments in an age-friendly community - built, service and social. The key elements within those environments include outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, communication and information, community services, health services, respect and social inclusion, social participation, civic participation and volunteering, and employment and the economy.

Dr. Neal will discuss all of these factors and more as she describes what makes a city age-friendly and why being age-friendly is a bonus to everyone who lives there.

The Sisters Senior Alliance is investigating whether their vision for coordinated services here in Sisters could be a short- or mid-term goal that could evolve into a longer-term effort to create an age-friendly community in Sisters.

Dr. Neal is the Ph.D. director of the Institute on Aging and professor of Urban Studies in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University. She teaches graduate courses in gerontology, survey design and data collection, and global aging.

She led Portland's participation in the 2006-2007 WHO Global Age-Friendly Cities project and has coordinated the Age-Friendly Portland and Multnomah County initiatives since then. An international speaker who is widely published on the topics of age-friendly communities, she works closely with the Older Adult Behavioral Health Initiative and the State of Oregon.









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