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Albany County Gets WHO Designation As An Age-Friendly Community

Albany County has been chosen to join the World Health Organization’s Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.

The announcement was made during the county’s third annual Summit on Aging, held at St. Sophia's Church in Albany. Recent demographic data indicates that 15.6 percent of the 309,000 people living in the county are age 65 and over. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy remarked on the importance of the WHO affiliation. "Which is a great designation because it shows that we're striving to turn the quality of life for seniors in our community that are living longer, that wanna stay home, and we're working with them."

Laura Palmer is with the AARP. "Albany County becomes the 101st member of  AARP'snetworkof age-friendly communities. This is an important milestone in Albany's effort to help residents to stay healthy and active longer. You might think of AARP of the group that sends you membership mail when you turn 40, and that's true, we all get the letter. I've gotten the letter too. But you might not know that AARP is the largest membership organization in the country. We have nearly 38 million members over the age of 50 including 2.6 million here in New York state. Our members are a diverse group, but, the vast majority tells us they want to live independently in their communities, as long as they can. As our nation's population ages, more and more communities are recognizing the need to be age-friendly and livable."

As a member of WHO's network, Assemblymember Pat Fahy notes, Albany County joins a growing global movement of cities and communities that are striving to better meet the needs of their older residents.  "That's good economic development. So it's not just a reflection of what's being done, it's also a reflection of where we're heading and we know the Baby Boomers are retiring in record numbers. And this helps them look here, to move here, and to those who already live here, to stay here. It's a real reflection and it helps the bottom line with keeping this local economy strong."

Derrick Holmes is on the executive council for AARP:   "This is a major step, but it'll involve many organizations, so that we improve our infrastructure, that we provide services for the aging, and then it'll bring in additional retail and business opportunities for the community, and help us grow in a positive way."

During the Summit on Aging, the county brought together experts and law enforcement officials to help seniors deal with challenges. Topics discussed included fraud protection, coping with Alzheimer’s and the growing problem of suicide among seniors.

The area around St. Sophia's has been designated a "Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community" by Jewish Family Services of Northeastern New York, which helps people 60 and up age in place.

Each year the Albany County Department for Aging provides services to more than 11,000 people over 60 and their caregivers.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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