Age-Friendly Sarasota in Action
Question: How many of us knew what Age-Friendly was three years ago? I confess I didn’t. The Age-Friendly Sarasota initiative has resulted in an increased public awareness of Age-Friendly, what it means, and how it impacts each of us regardless of age or ability. Sarasota County regards active aging as a lifetime process and is committed to helping all residents live healthy and active lives. This includes ensuring buildings and outdoor spaces are accessible, that residents have transportation and housing options, that there is social respect and inclusion for all, opportunities for civic participation, and comprehensive community and health services. In all sectors, we are actively engaged in embedding an Age-Friendly lens into our county’s policies, procedures, and services.
What has the community realized since the onset of Age-Friendly? While the list is too long to detail here, a few highlights are shared below:
- The AARP Livability Index scores have risen in approximately 80% of zip code regions in Sarasota County since the implementation of Age-Friendly Sarasota in 2015.
- The Mobi-Mat installation at Siesta Key Beach provides an example of a small change that has had a significant impact—allowing everyone easy access to the waterfront.
- The Voluntary Incentive and Recognition Program aims to enhance the accessibility of built spaces—housing specifically—and encourages incorporation of universal and flexible design features that enable individuals to age in place.
- iTN SunCoast has extended its services, offering a safe and reliable source of transportation for any purpose to those age 60 or older or anyone with a visual impairment.
Another significant milestone in Sarasota’s Age-Friendly journey is the completion of the Age-Friendly Sarasota Progress Report presented to the Board of County Commissioners. The report provides insights into the many strides that have been made since the community embarked on this quest three years ago. The Board of County Commissioners is to be commended for their leadership and willingness to embrace the Age-Friendly movement. We are all stakeholders in making a difference in our community; kudos to all who have embraced the tenets held by Age-Friendly communities throughout the world.
As the County and all of its partner organizations continue the work of Age-Friendly Sarasota, we can look forward to Sarasota County being an even better place in which to grow up and grow old. The final Progress Report will be prepared at the end of the five-year Age-Friendly cycle in 2020. It will be exciting to see what an Age-Friendly Sarasota looks like then.