Age-Friendly Northfield has developed an action plan in the last couple months.

The action plan is seen as a way to address the needs identified by the public during a community engagement process. The four domains that emerged as needing the most urgent attention are housing, health and wellness, community information and outdoor spaces and buildings. The plan is seen as a way to address the needs identified by the public during a community engagement process.

Age-Friendly Northfield is a grassroots group of Northfield residents, working to make the city more accessible and inviting to citizens as they age. Patty Cernia, Chris Ellison and Pat Allen started the group after the city received and then used grant funds for dementia work in the community.

The Age-Friendly action plan was developed using guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and AARP. Developing and implementing the action plan are considered core parts of the age-friendly program’s broader five-year, four-phase process.

The action plan includes statements that the city will create additional older adult housing and housing with available service options. The plan calls for the city to ensure older adults are aware of independent housing and housing with available support services, and that everyone knows the benefits of designing housing for people of all ages.

The plan calls for increasing the availability and awareness of in-home health care services and support for adults and outreach to isolated adults living in the community.

The action plan advocates for working with existing organizations and the city to create programs and policies for designing outdoor buildings to be used by adult citizens and visitors and ensuring a system for job training and employment opportunities for older adults is in place.

David DeLong mug


Other plans include ensuring streets, intersections and sidewalks are well-maintained and well-lit and that multiple, reliable public and private transportation services are available. The action plan calls for the implementation of a system to enhance volunteer opportunities for older adults, increase the number of volunteers in health care and supportive services and improve the accessibility of educational programs to isolated older adults.

The action plan has been accepted by AARP and the Northfield City Council.

Age-Friendly Northfield’s action plan has five guiding principles, including cultural and linguistic diversity, generational interdependence, clear and consistent communication, combating ageism and establishing creative partnerships.

A community outreach coordinator, funded by the city and FiftyNorth, is expected to be hired to assist and provide information and referrals for older adults in the broader community. The coordinator would oversee the program’s implementation and outreach strategies.

The Age-Friendly Steering Committee is considered grassroots with help from the city of Northfield, Northfield Retirement Community, Three Links and the Northfield Hospital and Clinics.

To Northfield City Councilor David DeLong, those developments are important for Northfield because of the city’s relatively large population of older adults who are seeking to stay in their homes as long as possible. The city has been named one of the best places to retire and has an active population, he said.

The city joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities in 2016.

The next step in the process is the finding of the eight focus domains. Teams of community leaders with special expertise or interest in each domain are planned to refine and implement goals and strategies and lead plan implementation.

Age-Friendly has received a grant for the Red Chair Project, which was made possible by an AARP Community Challenge grant.

“We have purchased chairs that will be available for community events,” DeLong said. “They will go out mostly with the Showmobile and will be marked for use by older adults and handicapped (people) so they will not have to worry about trying to (manage) wrangling chairs along with other things like a walker or other challenges they might have in attending community events.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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