A wave of seniors is about to engulf communities across the United States as Boomers move into retirement. And that is going to create some new challenges.
Prairie Village and Mission are cooperating with the Mid-America Regional Council to figure out how cities should respond. Cathy Boyer-Shesol, project manager for MARC’s KC Communities for All Ages (KCC) initiative told the Mission City Council this week that the process of designing age friendly communities is in its infancy.
Overwhelmingly, she said, people want to stay in their own homes as long as they can. While Boomers are rapidly crossing the threshold of 65, a mis-match exists between inner suburbs that were built for children but now have an aging population.
Implications for economic development are inherent in how cities address the demographic change, Boyer-Shesol, herself a Mission resident told the city. How do you keep seniors from moving away? And creating a community that is good for all ages, she said, involves many aspects: lack of places to sit in public places hinders walking; community gardens become places for exercise and socialization.
KCC is working with the First Suburbs Coalition to develop methods for creating communities that accommodate all ages and that engage older adults. The pilot work will develop a checklist of characteristics for successful communities and a certification process for cities to complete to achieve a designation as a Community for All Ages.
Prairie Village and Mission will work with Raytown and Gladstone on the Missouri side on the checklist, self-assessments and certification.
The MARC initiative has already produced a toolkit to help elected officials and planners prepare for the new demographic trends and an idea book for homeowners on how to renovate homes and neighborhoods.