“Home is not just a house, but an accomplishment. It’s about homemaking…in its more basic sense as dwelling, belonging.” (Phil Stafford, Elderburbia: Aging with a Sense of Place in America)
Our vision of where we live as an aging society is already changing. We begin with a look at the suburbs, where 75% of older Americans live. And the suburbs are where they say they want to stay to “age in community,” near people and places they know. But that presents huge challenges. For one – suburban life depends on the car. Yet data shows most people live 8-10 years beyond their ability to drive. How do we reconcile this?
One of the most ambitious transformations is happening twelve miles outside of Atlanta, in Mableton, Georgia. Lifelong Mableton is one of 14 Administration on Aging pilot projects nationwide. Launched by the Atlanta Regional Commission, an Area Agency on Aging, it will re-shape Mableton’s traditional suburban design to create a community that promotes social engagement, is walkable, and offers services and a sense of place for a diverse intergenerational population. A vision desired by Boomers and Millennials alike.
It’s a bold 40-year plan – but changes have already begun. Even in challenging economic times, it’s one vision for the future. And it’s doable.