Developers have added many senior living facilities across Minnesota, but state leaders and senior advocates say communities need to address a variety of issues to make cities more “age-friendly.” (Adobe Stock)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota is projected to see a larger population of older adults in the next decade. To coincide with that growth, state leaders and senior advocates are working to make communities around the region more “age-friendly.”

By 2030, according to the state demographer, more than one in five Minnesotans will be an older adult. Anthony Taylor, an executive council member for AARP Minnesota, said not all retirees are able to move to locations perhaps better suited for their golden years, so communities need to step up and improve the quality of life for people in their 60s and older who are sticking around.

“When we talk about age-friendly communities,” he said, “that includes safe, walkable streets. It includes housing and transportation options. It includes innovation, particularly around health care and technology.”

He said communities also can learn from the pandemic in protecting older residents during a crisis. This week, AARP hosts a free virtual conference with tips for anyone wanting to help create more age-friendly communities. Taylor also serves on a special council created by the governor, tasked with establishing a statewide age-friendly plan for the Legislature to consider.

Cities such as Alexandria, which became an AARP Age-Friendly Community in 2016, have taken a more direct approach. Officials have said it includes making older residents aware of available resources.

Taylor said another thing for cities and towns to consider is that the seniors who live in these communities should be viewed as an asset.

“Them staying in our communities create[s] a great storehouse of historical information, of wisdom, of connection to families,” he said.

He said improving quality of life not only benefits older residents, but younger generations as well, as they all have greater access to certain services and upgrades.

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