Vital Aging Network

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An Aging Twin Cities Population

You’ve heard it: Minnesota’s population is aging! By 2030, over 20% of Minnesotans will be 65 and older.  What does this statistic mean, and how are municipalities preparing?

This aging demographic will have an impact on all facets of our communities. To gain understanding of this aging phenomenon, the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging (MAAA) conducted a survey of 146 metropolitan cities and townships to determine the status of their planning for an aging population. MAAA modeled their Communities for a Lifetime Survey after the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging’s Maturing of America Study:

In Minnesota’s study, eighty-seven participants or 61% of municipalities completed the survey. The study indicates that the majority of municipalities in the seven-county metropolitan area are considering the impact of an aging population in their municipal planning efforts.

Of the 87 responding municipalities, 73 or 84% have taken some action in this regard. Comparatively, the Maturing of America Study found nationally that 54% of communities have not begun planning for an aging population.
The survey provides some additional details about the plans that municipalities are making:

  • 49 cities and townships are beginning to integrate aging components into their comprehensive plans.
  • 41 municipalities are developing gathering spaces for seniors.
  • 38 local governments have staff that are attending educational sessions related to the aging of the population.

Survey results, however, highlight that municipalities need and want assistance in preparing for baby boomers:

  • 64 cities and townships request additional education about the impact of an aging population.
  • 61 communities respond that they need to identify best practices in providing for an aging population.
  • 51 local governments stated that networking opportunities among cities and townships are necessary for effective planning.
  • 43 municipalities desire information on tools to assist in their planning efforts.

As the population continues to age, the impact on housing, transportation, recreation, and human services will become more profound. Our communities need to become proactive in addressing the issues of an aging population because planning will allow them to address potential problems now before they reach the point of crisis.

The Vital Aging Network defines vital communities as communities in which people of all generations work together to find the right balance between meeting individual needs and achieving the common good. The results from MAAA’s Communities for a Lifetime Survey demonstrate a considerable need for municipalities to learn more about how an aging population will affect local physical, social, and civic infrastructures.

The MAAA and the Vital Aging Network (VAN) are examples of organizations looking at ways to assist municipalities in their planning. The revised Vital Communities Toolkit, located on VAN’s website, provides examples of tools that can help. The toolkit offers access to surveys, questionnaires, assessments, and worksheets and provides links to state and national communities that have developed planning models. VAN designed the toolkit to help citizens learn more about their communities’ assets, define and hone their vision, and achieve their goals.

To view the results from the Communities for a Lifetime Survey, visit MAAA’s website at www.tcaging.org and click on the Communities for a Lifetime Survey Findings link.

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