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MN Becomes 10th 'Age-Friendly' State


Thursday, January 27, 2022   

Minnesota is building on efforts to meet the needs of its growing population of older adults, now becoming the 10th state to join AARP's network of "age-friendly" states.

The move follows the creation of the Governor's Council on an Age-Friendly Minnesota, which was established in 2019.

Sherrie Pugh, chair of the Council, said while the panel has already produced a set of recommendations, joining the nonprofit's network allows Minnesota to draw input from other states.

"For us to garner and lift up the best practices that are being done in other states that could be equally as effective or more effective in Minnesota," Pugh explained.

The council has highlighted issues such as broadband access, emergency preparedness and diversity and inclusion as key priorities in making Minnesota more age-friendly. Its initial report resulted in nearly $4 million from the Legislature to administer grants for local communities to carry out age-friendly projects. The grants will be available this summer.

Minnesota has 13 communities in the age-friendly network, including Olmstead County, in the Rochester area.

Dave Beal, age-friendly coordinator for the region, said with people living longer and healthier lives, meeting the needs of older residents goes beyond traditional approaches.

"Age-friendly efforts aren't simply trying to address the needs of vulnerable adults," Beal explained. "But also recognize the longer contributions can make. "

In Rochester, he said part of their focus is ensuring there is enough housing stock to go around with older Minnesotans opting to stay in their homes longer.

Along with the pending age-friendly grants, AARP Minnesota is now accepting applications for Community Challenge grants, which come with a similar mission by funding projects aiming to make towns and cities more livable.

Disclosure: AARP Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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