Orange County’s journey to create a livable community for older adults began two decades ago when we created a permanent citizen's advisory board and office dedicated to being the voice for older adults in Orange County. This new Commission on Aging received the Florida Department of Elder Affairs' first Community of a Lifetime Award in 2002. In August 2021, the Commission on Aging will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
This milestone marks an opportunity to begin planning for the next 20 years. The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities provides a versatile framework that has proven to be successful in more than 500 state, county and local communities across the United States. At the core of this initiative is building safe and secure livable communities that have affordable and appropriate resources for residents to stay active and engaged and also remain independent in their community or “age in place.”
Our goal for the Age-Friendly Orange County Initiative is to analyze how effectively we are meeting the eight domains of livability identified by AARP. The initiative is strategically timed to take advantage of—and interweave—several community planning efforts underway in Orange County, including VISION 2050, 2020 LEED for Cities and Communities Initiative, and participation in the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative.
The County also has a strong interest in incorporating the needs of elders into several masterplans slated for updating in the near future, including the parks and recreation masterplan, housing masterplan and land development code. It is Orange County Government’s goal to expand its support of older residents by weaving older adult programming into its core services in order to help better serve a diverse community. A region that is more accessible and welcoming is one that is better suited for older people—and ultimately better for everyone.
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