Linda Henry is clearly passionate about the importance of Puyallup being designated as an age-friendly city.
â€œThis started out years ago with the AdvantAge Initiative and when we considered the importance of being an age-friendly community. This is where I elect to spend a lot of my volunteer hours,â€ she said.
Puyallup Area Aging in Community is an all-volunteer, non-profit charitable educational group. â€œOur purpose is to educate the community on aging issues,â€ said Henry.
On May 14 at Pierce College-Puyallup, â€œBlazing a Trail to Successful Agingâ€ observed May as Older American Month and celebrated Puyallupâ€™s successes at making the city age-friendly.
Doug Shadel, state director of AARP, presented Mayor John Hopkins with a proclamation stating that Puyallup has been designated as an AARP/WHO Age-Friendly City.
Puyallup is the first city to be awarded this distinction.
Hopkins said in order for Puyallup to qualify for this award, the city had to provide facilities and services that would show that it is an age-friendly city.
At this time, 14 percent of Puyallupâ€™s population is over the age of 60.
Hopkins said AARP/WHO took into account Puyallupâ€™s streets, and the fact that the crossings leave enough time for everyone to safely cross. They also acknowledged the Sound Transit Connector, the Puyallup Senior Activity Center, and many other factors.
â€œThis is more of a promise than anything else because we are making a commitment to be conscious about our efforts to improve on what we are doing. In other words, this philosophy becomes imbedded in the (cityâ€™s) planning department, and they look at things with fresh eyes,â€ said Hopkins.
Speakers at the event included Dr. Roger Landry, a nationally recognized preventative medicine physician who spoke about successful aging in an age-friendly city, U. S. Rep. Denny Heck, and Shelley Schlumph, president of Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce.
Henry said AARP has designated eight domains that encapsulate the idea of being age-friendly. They include how accessible buildings are, streets, sidewalks and public transit options, as well as housing options for various life stages. The availability of accessible fun and social activities are important, as well as intergenerational activities. Also in consideration is how easy it is it for folks to continue working or participate in volunteer activities, and access and affordability of community health services.
This is a tall order for cities to manage, and Puyallup is proud to be the first city to receive this designation, Hopkins said.
He said in the future, the city would continue to look at everything through the filter of being an age-friendly.
â€œWe will say, â€˜Well, does that work for seniors? Is that going to improve transportation, medical availability and fitness activities?â€™â€ the mayor said.
Henry noted the designation is not only a congratulatory statement, but also complimenting Puyallup for its commitment.
â€œThis is a process that is not in name only. This is a commitment to be really intent about making certain that we were working toward being an age-friendly city, and that also means being friendly to people of all ages. The vision statement envisions what the city will be in 2030,â€ she said. â€œReally if you think about it, Puyallup is blazing a trail with its age-friendly designation and also blazing a trail on how to age successfully.â€
Joan Cronk, who wrote this article,
is a freelance writer from Puyallup.