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Amherst may seek age-friendly designation

  • Amherst is considering participating in the Healthy Aging and Age-Friendly Community initiative. Dreamstime/TNS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/9/2019 12:16:05 AM

AMHERST — The town may seek a designation from the state that would make Amherst more welcoming and accessible to an aging population.

Amherst officials are considering participating in the Healthy Aging and Age-Friendly Community Initiative, a collaboration between the World Health Organization, AARP and the Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative.

Planning Director Christine Brestrup told the Council on Aging Thursday that several aspects of the initiative fit with work already taking place in Amherst, including improving outside spaces, ensuring good and accessible transportation, providing housing for people as they age, creating programs interesting to seniors and offering special inclusion and health services.

“It seems like a really good program to work on because we have so many seniors in Amherst who want to live here and age in place,” Brestrup said.

The town is engaged in updating its Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan and is looking for a grant from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission for improving streetscapes. One of the focal points, Brestrup said, is making sure that sidewalks and crosswalks can be easily navigated by people with mobility challenges.

Lisa White, the director of senior health services, said the designation would show a commitment for the community to become more age-friendly, observing that a similar effort is underway in Deerfield, where she also works.

Brestrup added that Northampton is seeking the designation, as well.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman has spoken previously about the value of being age-friendly in the context of constructing new sidewalks and investing in infrastructure that supports walking and bicycling, as well as vehicular traffic.

Rosemary Kofler, chairwoman of the Council on Aging, said she appreciates that the town wants to be age-friendly.

“Our focus should be improving the lives of elders. This is a very comprehensive way about going about it,” Kofler said.




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