Residents 60 years and older make up nearly 25% of Michigan’s population. To help Michigan’s older residents live well and safely in their communities, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently approved and submitted Michigan’s Age-Friendly Action plan to AARP.
Michigan was the first state in the Midwest to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities in October 2019. This was the first step in a multi-year process to make Michigan more livable for people of every age.
The plan reflects the age-friendly priorities for 2021-2023 and will serve as the foundation for future iterations of age-friendly plans
Chris Lemon, senior community investment officer at Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF), focuses on AAACF’s strategic grant programs focused on supporting older adults and caregivers in Washtenaw County. Lemon shared that this statewide strategy is an important step to ensuring that all older adults and caregivers are given every chance to live a healthy and fulfilling life.
“Beyond being a strategy and action plan for the state, it also provides key concepts and components that each county, city, or township can adopt as they work to make their community a safe and thriving place for older adults. While progress will look different in each area of Michigan, one of the most important aspects of this initiative is that it is providing a chance for everyone to begin actively looking at how we can support older adults in our communities,” Lemon said.
According to a state press release, eight municipalities in Michigan – Auburn Hills, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, Novi, Royal Oak and Southfield – have joined the Age-Friendly community network and many more are in the planning stages.
Priorities in the 2021-2023 plan address areas with the largest room for improvement, including addressing the direct care worker shortage, care transition programming to reduce hospital readmission, expanding access to evidence-based programming to reduce obesity and strategies to increase social participation.
The plan focuses on six areas:
- Community and Information: Expand the reach of information and awareness of aging network services, ensuring all older adults and caregivers can access culturally and linguistically appropriate quality services where and when they need them.
- Respect and Social Inclusion: Prioritize resources to promote social interaction and connectedness, including expanding access to technology and transportation.
- Social Participation: Increase the number of aging network services that can be offered virtually, like Personal Action Toward Health and support groups.
- Transportation: Ensure older adults and caregivers have transportation options that meet their needs in their communities.
- Community and Health Services: Increase the number of well-trained, qualified and supportive multicultural direct care workers through collaboration by elevating the workforce, improving retention, promoting its collective value and supporting opportunities to increase wages.
- Elder Abuse & Exploitation: Leverage services and resources to ensure older adults have access to programs and services they need to make their own decisions to enable them to age in place.
“One of MDHHS’s priorities is to ensure that Michiganders can age in their homes and communities for as long as possible while continuing to contribute to the economy and live healthy lives,” Farah Hanley, chief deputy director for health at MDHHS said. “The Age-Friendly Plan will help us accomplish this important goal.”
Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II recently kicked off his Thriving Seniors Tour in Detroit, meeting with more than 30 seniors from the Franklin Wright Human Service Agency.
The tour highlights the needs of older Michiganders through open and honest conversations about what actions Whitmer and Gilchrist have taken to support Michigan seniors, including the investments made in the FY 2023 budget and what still needs to be done to make Michigan a great place to live, work and retire.
Read the full action plan.