According to U.S. census data, New Hampshire has the second-oldest population in terms of median age. Over the past month and a half, 10 New Hampshire towns have been accepted into the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities. As part of the network, these towns are making a commitment to making their communities more age-friendly.
The eight areas the AARP focuses on for these communities are outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.
George Cleveland, Executive Director of the Gibson Center for Senior Services in Conway, led the effort for towns in the Mount Washington Valley to join the network. He says the biggest challenges for seniors in his community are housing and transportation.
“Some people's idea of what is so-called affordable housing will be way out of anybody's reach forever. In the rural parts of the state of New Hampshire, there is almost no public transportation,” he says.
Cleveland is particularly encouraged by the opportunities to communicate with other rural communities as part of AARP’s national network.
“There are places in Montana and Wyoming that have similar problems. They may have solutions that we may be able to implement here in New Hampshire,” he says.
Joining the network is the first step in a five year process of planning, implementation, and assessment by the AARP.
Note: This story has been corrected. An earlier version incorrectly stated that 10 towns in New Hampshire received AARP’s Age Friendly designation. These towns have been accepted into the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities, the first step in the process, but they have not received the designation.