Age-Friendly Columbus has laid out a 15-point checklist for the next year to make the city more accessible for older residents.
"All of the year-one strategies must be completed according to the plan by the end of 2018," said Katie White, director of the organization.
The group's strategic plan, which was unveiled Nov. 28, offers improvements in several key areas, including transportation, aging in place, better preparation for emergencies and senior-employment issues.
Although Columbus is a comparatively young city, like many across the country, it is on track for a senior-population boom. Central Ohio's 65-and-older population is expected to double in the next 35 years, driving new needs in health care, transportation, housing and recreation, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
White said Age-Friendly Columbus will work with local city and county agencies and nonprofit organizations to implement each aspect of the plan.
The report's directives include improving transportation options for senior citizens with free shuttles that will take residents to hubs in Clintonville. The vehicles are being provided by the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center.
Promotion of transit-training programs also is included in the plan.
Creating successful communication channels and using both conventional and new technology-based models are addressed in the strategic report. That would include everything from beefing up circulation of traditional senior-oriented publications to creating neighborhood-based phone, text and email trees.
"Basically, we want to make sure it's available; however, we want them to receive that information we provide in the way they want," White said.
Workforce development and training is something of particular interest to Carol Ventresca, executive director of Employment for Seniors in Whitehall.
"Since the recession, it has become more difficult for older workers to remain in the workforce or re-enter the workforce because the job-search process has changed so dramatically," Ventresca said.
Online applications, job postings, networking -- "those are huge issues," Ventresca said.
"For some older workers, it's not too hard of a process but for some it is," she said.
Planning for the initiative, which will take three years to implement, started two years ago.
Columbus officials worked with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and others last year to create Age-Friendly Columbus and develop a three-year action plan for improvements.
Now that the strategic plan is ready, the Ohio State University College of Social Work will act as administrator, with White remaining as director of Age-Friendly Columbus.
Her office will move from MORPC to the Barnett Community Recreation Center in east Columbus.
Columbus is a friendly place for its aging population but there's room to improve, White said.
"I'd say we are right in the middle of the work being done," she said.
"There were a couple of cities that jumped out first as age-friendly cities," she said, citing New York and Washington, D.C., as examples.
When Age-Friendly Columbus joined the World Health Organization's Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities two years ago, it 64 members, White said. Now it has 150 cities, which offer learning opportunities, she said.
"In turn, that also leaves us space to tweak and improve and be innovative in some things we do," she said.