San Antonio, Texas, recently joined the American Association of Retired Persons’ (AARP) growing network of age-friendly communities. The AARP’s program encourages cities to prepare for the rapid aging of the U.S. population by paying increased attention to the environmental, economic and social factors that influence the health and well-being seniors.

As the population ages, municipalities are looking to engage and serve this growing demographic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in the next 25 years, the population of Americans 65 and over will double to about 72 million. By 2030, seniors will make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population.

In an interview with AARP Texas, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro said that the AARP’s Age-Friendly Communities program falls in line with San Antonio’s SA 2020 initiative, which asks residents to help the local government set goals for what the city should be like at the turn of the decade.

“SA 2020 is all about a vision for a very livable city, to make San Antonio a lively city and a place that is welcoming and comfortable for everyone,” said Castro. “The age-friendly initiative fits perfectly with that because it’s about ensuring we don’t just focus on one age group, but that we focus on all age groups, particularly seniors as they get older to ensure that San Antonio will offer them a fantastic quality of life.”

Castro added that older residents are important to the vitality of his city. “We know that just as our future is tied to folks who are sitting in a classroom right now, our future is also tied to the health and well-being of people who are turning 50, and older, and still have a long life to live and a lot to give to the community,” he told AARP Texas.

Castro told the organization many cities focus their energies on attracting young professionals, but tend to neglect elderly residents. “But the fact is, senior citizens are the fastest-growing part of the population,” he said. “And senior citizens, because of their life experience, and often times their work experience and the time that they have on their hands, can be a great asset to a community that is rising, like San Antonio.”

Involvement is key to utilizing San Antonio’s seniors, Castro said, especially in a volunteer capacity. “Our senior citizens are a huge reservoir of talent and ability and passion for serving the community. Getting them to participate and volunteer makes sense for San Antonio.”

In addition to working to involve seniors in community outreach and improvement, San Antonio has also working to become a more walkable community – an important aspect of age-friendly policy. According to the AARP, San Antonio is among 300 jurisdictions in the U.S. with an expressed commitment to Complete Streets policies.

For more information on how San Antonio is becoming age-friendly, watch the video below, or, to learn about other municipalities focusing on their elderly populations, read Age Appropriate, American City & County’s coverage of age-friendly policy.

 

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