Recreation Director Asks City to Make Aging in Place a Goal

Tod Gazetti, recreation director, and Paige Gembarski, senior center activities coordinator, want seniors to stay in their Royal Oak homes as long as possible.

Just over 13 percent of Royal Oak's population are 65 years old or older, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Credit: Patch File Photo
Just over 13 percent of Royal Oak's population are 65 years old or older, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Credit: Patch File Photo
Royal Oak Recreation Director Tod Gazetti asked city officials to make aging in place a priority at the strategic planning session held on Jan 18.

According to AARP, nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 indicate they want to stay in their home as long as possible, and four of five in that age bracket believe their current home is where they will always live.

Gazetti and Paige Gembarski, senior center activities coordinator, want city officials to consider a program offered by the Michigan Office of Services that gives cities the chance to be recognized for adopting forward-thinking policies that make their community more "age-friendly."

Qualities of an age-friendly community

The process to be accredited as Community for a Lifetime takes about three to 12 months to complete, Gazetti said. The objectives of the aging in place program include:

  • Walkability
  • Supportive community systems
  • Access to Health Care
  • Safety and Security
  • Housing: Availability and Affordability
  • Housing: Modification and Maintenance
  • Transportation
  • Commerce
  • Enrichment
  • Inclusion

To qualify as a age-friendly community, the city must complete a 50-page assessment.

"Our thought was to put together a focus group of community leaders, business leaders, volunteers, seniors and commissioners and we would come back after the three to ninth month process and tell you were we're deficient in certain areas or where we meet the national standards," Gazzeti said. "Then we would come to the commission to look for your approval on an action plan and then proceed from there."

Being accredited helps a city when applying for grants, Gazzetti said.

"It puts a little extra credit point in that column," he said.

Michigan's age is showing

Michigan's age is showing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While the overall population in the state decreased just under one percent from 2000 to 2010, the number of people over age 65 grew by 11.7 percent and those over age 85 grew by a whopping 34.7 percent, according to www.census.gov.

Just over 13.1 percent of Royal Oak's population are 65 years old or older, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. That's down from 14.9 percent in 2000.


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