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Teams Meet to Plan Atlanta’s Future for Healthy Aging | Congress for the New Urbanism

Teams Meet to Plan Atlanta’s Future for Healthy Aging

Heather Smith's picture

Continuing the Atlanta Regional Comission Charrette a panel of experts from the National Center of Healthy Aging, the Wesley Woods Geriatric Center and the Department of Community Health discussed barriers to healthy aging. In particular they discussed how to provide services for seniors that are more neighborhood scale getting away from the large hospital and medical institutions that detract from creating walkable communities.

Understanding that many more seniors want to stay in their homes, the experts discussed many ideas and barriers from how to address the health care providers who are often commuting long hours by car to get to their patients, to working with seniors who would be better off getting to their institutions. Ideas such as a neighborhood farmers market day that is walkable, nurses and health care providers using bicycles to get to seniors at home, co-housing arrangements or creating smaller scale community health centers and making sure small-scale grocers such as neighborhood bodegas carry fresh fruits and vegetables that offer options beyond the large scale big box grocery store. All of these ingredients can add up to better quality of life for a full range of ages.

Andres Duany discussed walkability as the big gorilla in the room. He said “Americans expect a lot from their walking environment” and described how Atlanta has a lot of great street frontage but it is not all contiguously interesting and clean so people tend to drive rather than walk.

Meanwhile the design teams were working with developers around the room on site specific plans re-instating grid patterns and designing civic buildings, parks and senior housing with zero step entrances. The sites for this charrette are the Atlanta Beltline, Rockdale-Conyers, Dekalb Toco Hills, Cobb County Mableton and Fayetteville. More and more sketches are emerging every hour and will be presented Saturday.

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Follow the Aging-in-Place Charrette at Placeshakers Blog too

Here's what Ben Brown has to say at Placeshakers:

"Flunking the aging-in-place test not only means an increased burden for family care-givers and public programs (and therefore tax-payers); it also means the loss of good neighbors and productive citizens who could live independently longer in their own homes and neighborhoods if their communities planned for walkability, diverse housing choices, and mixed-use."

Ben says the involvement of AARP is key. "It’s taken an effort by the nation’s primary advocacy group for seniors, AARP, to make the idea of “Livable Communities” for aging in place a planning priority."

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