In February 2018, the LOA and AARP presented Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea with the city’s enrollment certificate in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities.

“We are committed to our senior population and making our community friendly to people of all ages,” the mayor said. At an event at Roanoke City Hall with the Local Office on Aging and other city officials, Roanoke became the 202 nd city in the country to join the network. “Roanoke’s leaders are committed to making sure the Star City leads the region in meeting the current and future needs of people of all ages,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “This membership is a credit to Mayor Lea and the City Council, as well as critical partners like the Local Office on Aging who helped make this happen.”

The LOA helped lead efforts to bring together important stakeholders from the community’s public, private, and non-profit sectors to secure the designation for the city.

“The City of Roanoke and its surrounding region face s a steep slope of shifting demographics with the ratio s of older adults far exceeding the current state and national average,” said Ron Boyd, President and CEO of the LOA. “In the next ten years, projections reveal that one-in-four persons in the city will be 65 and older.  As we approach 2030, the population of adults 65 and over will outnumber children under 18 for the first time in our nation’s history.”

Launched in 2012, the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities is an independent affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly Cities and Communities Program, an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for the growth of the older adult population.

“Our seniors are valuable members of our community and have valuable contributions to make to our quality of life.  This designation assists them in living comfortably as they age,” said Dr. David Trinkle, Roanoke City Council Member.

The network encourages and provides resources to states, counties, cities, towns, and rural areas to take action by adopting such features as walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.

“Roanoke is a fantastic place to live, work, and play, but many people still experience challenges on issues like transportation and housing,” added Dau. “We look forward to helping Roanoke become an even better community, now and in the years to come.”

As the population of the United States ages and people live healthier, more active and longer lives, communities must adapt. Well-designed, livable communities promote health and sustain economic growth, and they make for happier, healthier residents — of all ages.

Communities in the AARP age-friendly network are not retirement villages, gated developments, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Membership in the network does not mean that the community is, currently, “age-friendly” or a great place to retire. What membership does mean is that a community’s elected leadership has made the commitment to actively work toward making their town, city or county a great place for people of all ages.

Roanoke is the fifth community in Virginia to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, along with Alexandria, Albemarle County, Charlottesville, and Grayson County. It also was recently named one of AARP’s Top Travel Destinations for 2018.

Learn more about the network at AARP.org/agefriendly.