Worthington is making strides to be recognized as an "age-friendly" community, to provide an environment where citizens of all ages are supported and able to remain and actively age here.

Becoming such a community was identified as a top priority by Worthington City Council, which recently approved a resolution expressing support for the city to apply for membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities.

Age-Friendly Communities is an initiative to identify and develop locally driven services that improve the lives of Worthington's populations. Participation with the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities provides access to a national network of people and organizations who are working to create livable communities for residents of all ages, races and abilities.

In 2017, Worthington's 65-plus population was more than 20% and growing; the largest 65-plus population group in Franklin County. With the entire United States baby-boomer generation turning 65 by 2030, just 10 years from now, city leaders see the need to build on our foundation of programs and bring even more opportunities and support to older adults living in Worthington. These efforts, in partnership with other like organizations and resources, are intended to enhance the health, well-being, satisfaction and quality of life for older adults.

What does this mean more specifically for the residents of Worthington? Worthington's joining of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities provides a structure to take the community through the network's program cycle.

The process includes four phases:

* Conduct a survey and obtain feedback.

* Develop an action plan.

* Implement the plan.

* Evaluate and update.

This cycle typically takes about five years and serves as a measurable and intentional way to ensure the community is making progress towards being age-friendly to its residents.

The World Health Organization has developed eight domains of community life that influence the health and quality of life for older people and are reviewed in an age-friendly community plan. They include: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; social participation and access to leisure and cultural activities; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication; and information. (Editor's note: The AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities is the U.S. affiliate of the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, according to aarp.org.)

In 2020, we will convene stakeholders, including older residents, to evaluate older-adult services and programming in our community and determine how we can further assess, meet and exceed the needs of these residents.

Go to worthington.org and sign up for Neighborhood News e-news alerts to learn more as the process moves forward.

Darren Hurley is director of the Worthington Parks and Recreation Department.