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PNS Daily Newscast - September 21, 2018 


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Researcher: Seniors Key to Healthy Communities

A researcher says healthy communities have a big focus on their residents who are senior citizens. (Herb Carter)
A researcher says healthy communities have a big focus on their residents who are senior citizens. (Herb Carter)
July 24, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- It's often said that children are our future, but a researcher who has studied hundreds of rural communities argues that seniors are key to revitalization.

Doug Griffiths, author of "13 Ways to Kill Your Community," stressed that older people have knowledge, time, experience and in some cases, wealth for their retirement - all critical elements to building a successful community. But towns might need to make some changes to help seniors thrive - from construction of low-maintenance condos or townhomes, to offerings as simple as starting a square-dancing club.

"Giving them a quality of life, making sure they have the things that they're looking for, will help your community,” Griffiths said. "They'll spend that money locally, instead of going somewhere else."

Griffiths said seniors tend to believe strongly in volunteerism, and will seek out those opportunities as well.

He added that Millennials are another important demographic for rural communities, since many aren't interested in the 80-hour workweeks and urban living that were the hallmarks of "Generation X," and might appreciate the slower pace of small town life. While people often joke about Millennials posting pictures of their food on social media sites, Griffiths said that actually tells you something positive about their nature.

"They've realized that it's about living a little bit more in the moment - not for retirement, because some people don't reach retirement,” he said. "And so, they're very community-focused. And with technology, they don't have to live in the city."

Griffiths said too many rural communities have been sabotaged by complacency. But he said he's convinced they can be revived with "little things," such as social activities; "big things," like investments in technology and housing; and strategies to attract businesses and encourage volunteerism.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD