David Kutner

Making New Jersey’s Communities More Aging-Friendly

New Jersey Foundation for Aging’s Melissa Chalker

Land use characteristics that make a community inviting to older people are the same “smart growth” features that are appealing to all populations. These features – readily accessible, center-based locations that offer jobs, housing, entertainment, and amenities – characterize those places that Census data and research show are attracting growing populations of both Millennials and people 55 years of age and older. If New Jersey, ranked 10th in the nation for the number of residents age 60 and older, is going to retain and enhance its economic vitality and viability, its communities will need to recast land use regulations in order to enhance their aging-friendly characteristics.

The Aging-Friendly Is Everyone-Friendly session at New Jersey Future’s annual Redevelopment Forum explored how New Jersey’s changing demographics affect municipal economies; what makes a community aging-friendly; how communities can adjust to the evolving needs of their populations in order to enable residents to age in place; what benefits are gained by creating places that attract multi-generational communities; and how aging-friendly strategies differ for New Jersey’s varying community types. The presentations emphasized the considerable effort that will be required at both the local and state levels to accelerate systemic changes in New Jersey’s development patterns in order to keep pace with the needs of an older population that is growing rapidly and living longer.