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Two Oregon Counties Ponder Their 'Livability'

May 24, 2013

MEDFORD, Ore. – A new survey of voters over 50 in two Oregon counties offers some hints about what kinds of changes communities may have to make to allow people to age comfortably and as independently as possible.

Jackson and Josephine counties in southwest Oregon have some of the largest percentages of residents over age 50 in the state – which puts them ahead of the curve in dealing with the latest demographic trend of aging baby boomers.

AARP Oregon says at the top of the survey wish list was affordable and accessible housing. And Don Bruland, an AARP executive council volunteer in Medford, says the ability to get around easily was also cited.

"Some of the things that people need that makes a place livable, such as public transportation or sidewalks, it really makes it better for you whatever your age is,” he says. “And a lot of this is things that just allow people to remain active."

People need to stay active mentally as well as physically as they age, and Bandana Shrestha, director of community engagement with AARP Oregon, says the survey points to the need for intergenerational contact between groups such as senior centers and local universities.

"It's encouraging to know that older adults want to connect with the younger generation and are looking for opportunities for that,” she says. “When we are talking about age-friendly communities, we are really talking about a community that is a place where people of all ages and ability can work, play and live."

Of the 1,500 survey respondents, 68 percent said it's extremely or very important to be able to remain in their homes as they age. And 88 percent think their town or city is already very livable, with a few adjustments.

AARP Oregon has been sharing the survey results with local business and government leaders this week.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR