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Mayoral Forum Puts Focus on Oregon's Age-Friendly Cities

A mayoral forum in Portland hosted by AARP on Saturday has other cities thinking about options for becoming more livable for older adults. (Mike H/Wikimedia Commons)
A mayoral forum in Portland hosted by AARP on Saturday has other cities thinking about options for becoming more livable for older adults. (Mike H/Wikimedia Commons)
April 4, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - A mayoral forum in Portland hosted by AARP on Saturday has other cities thinking about what they can do to become more livable for older adults.

In Lane County, Springfield has joined Portland on the AARP's list of cities that are "age-friendly" by making the city more accessible.

Niel Laudati is community relations manager for the city of Springfield. He says officials toured the city with seniors to find out how to accommodate the community's needs.

"Everything from how the crossings work, how the buttons work, to, 'are the benches accessible,'" he says. "Not just are they accessible, but are they easy to get in and out of, and do we use that when we design new areas of town."

Oregon's population of adults 65 and older is expected to grow by 48 percent between 2010 and 2020.

Building homes with specifications such as wider hallways and more convenient electrical outlets is important to making seniors more independent.

Don Bruland is a retiree in Medford who volunteers with AARP. He says some of the design adjustments can be costly, but homes built to specifications for older adults are very popular.

"We have between 40 and 50 houses now that have been built in our area to these specifications," says Bruland. "And what the builder finds is they're sold before it can finish them."

Bruland adds accessible transportation is also important for keeping older generations involved in civic activities.

Laudati says simply making housing available is another challenge Springfield has focused on.

"How do we help seniors if they get displaced," he says. "And then what kind of option do you have in your city for seniors or low-income housing."

Springfield has been part of AARP's network of age-friendly communities since 2015.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR