The International Journal of Aging and Society offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Aging & Society Research Network.
As the world’s population continues to grow older, many communities are seeking to enhance the experience of daily life via age-friendly approaches. This paper recounts the development of an age-friendly community that began with the findings from a study that sought to enhance aging with dignity and independence in a southeastern United States community in which one-third of the residents are age sixty-five or older. Findings revealed six “actionable” themes: (1) Meaningful Involvement; (2) Aging in Place; (3) Respect and Inclusion; (4) Communication and Information; (5) Transportation and Mobility; and (6) Health and Well-being. The findings were independently aligned with the World Health Organization’s eight domains of livability and served to propel efforts toward the creation of the global age-friendly community designation. Research approaches are explicated, and programmatic efforts aimed at enhancing practice change on both individual and organization levels are presented.
Pictured left to right: Kathy Black and Kathyrn Hyer
Kathy Black and Kathyrn Hyer, The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 6, Isue 4, pp.59-71
It is a great honor for our article to be recognized with this distinction. As gerontologists, we are particularly honored because it demonstrates the applied value of research and its connection to practice in the real world. As scholars, we are also very pleased to demonstrate the value of academic–community engagement that enhances and benefits communities in many ways. As members of our communities, we greatly appreciate how the age-friendly work addresses community livability in many areas including features of the built environment (i.e., housing, transportation and outdoor spaces, and public buildings), social environment (i.e., social participation, civic participation and employment, respect, and social inclusion), and services and supports (i.e., community and health programs).
The article is also about the important role of educating all community stakeholders, in measurable ways, about roles for all of us in creating an age-friendly community. Research suggests that multi-sector engagement including business, government, nonprofits, media and people all contribute to an age-friendly community. Utilizing logic modeling and based on empirical findings, outputs can be tracked and outcomes can be achieved. Finally, though we appreciate the personal and professional acknowledgement of this article, we would be remiss if we did not mention the important role of our age-friendly team and broader collaborative community efforts. In addition, we are particularly grateful to our partners including The Patterson Foundation, Sarasota County Government, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, and the Florida Policy Exchange Center on Aging at the University of South Florida and the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee.
—Kathy Black and Kathryn Hyer
Orla Collins and Joe Bogue, The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 4, Issue 3-4, pp.1–12
Andy Cochrane, Sinéad McGilloway, Mairéad Furlong, and Michael Donnelly, The International Journal of Aging and Society, Volume 2, Issue 2, 13–23