10/5/2022 1 Comment
More than 260 people – including key government, business, non-profit and academic leaders -participated in New Jersey’s Age-Friendly Virtual Fair, a first-of-its-kind showcase of the diverse work underway to make the Garden State a better place to grow old.
The Sept. 15 virtual conference featured 34 virtual “table” presentations on myriad subjects that encompass or align with age-friendly efforts – from snapshot looks at strategies to improve transportation, housing, social inclusion, communication and collaboration within a community to detailed examinations of how New Jersey’s physical infrastructure, social support services and elder-care systems can be redesigned to better support aging in place.
Among the dignitaries who offered remarks as part of the event was Assemblyman Christopher Tully, a Democrat representing the 38th District, which encompasses parts of Bergen and Passaic counties.
Tully, a member of the Health and Aging and Senior Services committees, spoke of recent legislative measures to support home care, prevent elder fraud, control prescription drug costs and expand eligibility for property tax relief - as well as the recent commitments of Bergen County and the state of New Jersey to become part of the WHO/AARP Network of Age-friendly Network of States and Cities.
Tully urged a collaborative “village” approach to making “New Jersey a more affordable place to live through retirement.”
“Though creating an age-friendly New Jersey requires the attention of lawmakers, it also requires the good will and intentions of our neighbors, our small businesses and the entire community,” Tully said. “People say it takes a village to raise a child, but It also takes a village to create a welcoming and safe environment for us to grow old in the hometowns we love.”
The virtual fair was planned by a multi-organizational team, including the Rutgers School of Social Work in partnership with New Jersey Advocates for Aging Well, a non-profit advocacy group whose executive director Cathy Rowe was among the early age-friendly community leaders in the state. Grotta Fund for Senior Care and The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation – two foundations that helped fund and form the Age-Friendly North Jersey alliance, to which Age-Friendly Teaneck is a member – also collaboratively planned the event.
Age-Friendly Teaneck’s leaders were among the speakers: Project Coordinator EJ Vizzi delivering a presentation about our Careers in Aging internship for high school students; Project Director Elizabeth Davis participating in a panel about Assisted Living Programs, such as the one operated by The Bright Side Family; and Communications Coordinator Collen Diskin co-presenting about how to build a regional age-friendly movement by amplifying local efforts.
The goal of the event was to encourage collaboration and idea-sharing among the myriad players involved in age-friendly work, a list that includes community leaders, service providers, older residents, government officials, planners, developers, students, educators, community groups, funders, and more.
“Based on years of research, practice, and advocacy, we know that singular age-friendly programs, projects, groups, and community initiatives can be incredibly powerful on their own,” said Dr. Emily Greenfield, professor of social work at Rutgers. “But they have even greater chance for long-term and equitable impact when done in harmony with those of others.’
Participation by a number of state lawmakers, Murphy Administration officials, county government and municipal leaders is encouraging because age-friendly strategies must be adopted at all levels of government – and across all government divisions–in partnership with the private sector.
“Environmental and climate changes, transportation infrastructure, affordable housing development, property tax policies, design of parks and other public spaces, election outcomes, public health safety, Medicaid spending – decisions made across all of these sectors can make or break our ability to age with health and dignity in the communities of our choice - for the current generation of older adults and the multitudes to follow, “ said Julia Stoumbos, director of aging in place programs for the Taub Foundation. “More and more people in younger generations will be living to ages 100 and beyond and our community infrastructure must be designed with this in mind.
Leaders of the Age-Friendly North Jersey alliance work in regular partnership with a number of organizations in the state that play a lead role in aging issues. Representatives of many of those organizations - such as AARP New Jersey, New Jersey Future, Justice in Aging, and Corporation for Supportive Housing, led presentations at the virtual fair.
Click here to view the program and other supporting materials for the virtual fair.
Who We Are
Age-Friendly Teaneck formed in 2016 with this mission in mind: A great place to grow up should be a great place to grow old.