Johnson County earns AARP certification for age-friendly community living

Johnson County became officially enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities this week. It is the first county in the state to earn the designation.

“We’re hoping this gives us national recognition for all the work being done in our community and will show how passionate we are in Johnson County,” said Lorraine Bowans, board member for the Johnson County Livable Community and a state volunteer for AARP.

Johnson County now joins a growing number of communities to enroll in AARP’s initiative, with more than 500 members across the United States looking to develop equitable outcomes in housing, transportation, and public spaces.

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, created in 2012, is meant to prepare the country for a rapidly aging population. According to AARP’s website, by 2030, one of every five people in the U.S. will be 65 or older. By 2035, adults older than 65 will outnumber children under the age of 18.

To prepare for this societal shift, counties across the nation are transforming their communities and encouraging government officials to consider people of all ages moving forward. According to Ms. Bowan, this certification is also a real advantage for local realtors and prospective movers, as they can point towards the AARP Livability Index as a reason to choose Johnson County.

AARP assists member counties by “creating safer and more walkable streets, needed housing and transportation options, better access to key services, and opportunities for residents to participate in community activities.” The network is an organizational affiliate of the World Health Organization Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.

“What you do for seniors works for everyone in the community,” said Ms. Bowan. “We feel like Johnson County is kind of a secret, so we are being proactive in showing all of its benefits.”