Regional initiative's goal is to increase opportunities for older adults: Here's how it works

·2 min read

Sep. 23—A regional initiative has started to provide more opportunities for older adults and to provide collaboration between a number of communities to apply for grants to pay for programs.

Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission has helped establish Ohio's first Age-Friendly Region that is being called the Miami Valley Age-Friendly Network for this initiative

With the support from the Del Mar Healthcare Fund and the Del Mar Encore Initiative at the Dayton Foundation, the communities of Bellbrook, Brookville, Centerville, Harrison Twp. Huber Heights, Kettering, Miami County/Troy, and Xenia, will receive grants to begin the pursuit of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Livable and Age-Friendly Communities designation.

With these nine additional communities joining the AARP network, the Dayton region will have nearly twice as many Age-Friendly Communities in Ohio.

"Becoming an age-friendly region means that, together, we will strive to make needed changes in our communities to ensure that we can all live better as we age," Brian O. Martin, executive director, said.

In 2016, MVRPC launched the Institute for Livable and Equitable Communities, with the goal to enhance livability and equity in local communities.

"Our initial concentration has been on age-friendly initiatives, given the projected growth in the age 60-plus population," Martin said. "We've partnered with the Dayton Foundation and with AARP to help communities activate strategies that enhance livability that will benefit all generations."

With those nine communities joining the Age-Friendly Network this year, Martin said they are now hosting monthly meetings with the leaders of those communities so they can collaborate with one another.

"Looking ahead, another set of grants will be announced in early 2023, making Miami Valley the largest concentration of cities committed to enhancing livability across the state of Ohio," Martin said. "Given the current revenue challenges many communities face as we emerge from the pandemic and navigate economic uncertainties, these grants will help our region collectively pool their resources and knowledge to better serve their communities."

As for what residents can expect to see, the goal is to provide improved programming and amenities in public spaces for older people. The group also hopes to see communities provide more instances for older residents to get involved.

"One more positive outcome we anticipate is an increase in volunteerism," Martin said. "As people move into their 60s and beyond, the search for meaning and purpose intensifies. We predict an uptick on volunteerism throughout the Miami Valley as retirees share their wisdom and talents in meaningful ways to enrich their communities and the entire region."