South Bend region committed to age-friendly inclusivity

Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend and St. Joseph County are teaming up with AARP to make our area more accommodating for our elderly neighbors.

Friday afternoon, community leaders engaged with senior citizens at the Charles Martin Youth Center.

The South Bend AARP Age-Friendly Initiative is a five-year commitment encouraged to promote services that make South Bend more inclusive.

During the age-friendly listening session, residents were asked to answer questions like “what do you like about your community, and what do you wish to change?”

“Many times, it’s just being cut off from people or not being able to connect with people,” said Mary F. McAfee, administrative assistant for the Office of Mayor James Mueller. “And so, the things that have been put in place in South Bend are things that connect people. We’re valuable; we have a lot to offer. I’d like to see it where we could do some mentoring or work with our youth. So, we value the youth, but we want the youth to not forget us and value us as well.”

At the meeting, those in attendance discussed AARP’s designated 8 Domains of Livability.

The 8 Domains are Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Work and Civic Engagement, Communication and Information, and Community and Health Services.

The focus of Friday’s session was on outdoor spaces and buildings, which can create a barrier for senior citizens to enjoy public events. Limited seating, outdated handrails, and lack of ramps or elevators for wheelchair access are just a few things that can inhibit our most experienced community members from joining the rest of our society for a fun and well-deserved night out.

There are more than 700 age-friendly communities in the United States, but South Bend is only one of four in Indiana.