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The Future is Now: Aging in Pennsylvania

AARP Staff and Volunteers with Governor Shapiro at the release of Aging Our Way.

AARP Staff and Volunteers with Governor Shapiro at the release of Aging Our Way. Commonwealth Media Services

AARP Pennsylvania

Since 2011, 10,000 Americans have been turning 65 every day. More Americans are about to be 65 years old than ever before with a record number – about 4.1 million – hitting the milestone this year. According to the Pew Research Center, this trend will continue through 2030. 

Pennsylvania is among the states with a rapidly growing older adult population. Today, one in four Pennsylvanians is over the age of 60. By 2030, it will be one in three.  This trend is adding stress to systems designed to help people as they age, such as Social Security and Medicare, and it is shining a spotlight on the need to address caregiving, brain health, housing, transportation, and more.  The reality of this situation is compelling local, state, and federal leaders to take active steps to address the needs of an aging population. 

During the last week of May – a month dedicated as Older Americans Month – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through its Administration for Community Living, released a report, outlining recommendations for advancing healthy aging and age-friendly communities. “Aging in the United States: A Strategic Framework for a National Plan on Aging” outlines the approach our nation will take to prepare for the future. It details the array of services an aging society will need beyond adequate health care and safe housing, such as accessible communities, age-friendly workplaces, and high-quality, long-term service and supports to improve the experience of aging in America. 

The federal report was authorized by the Older Americans Act which directed the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Healthy Aging and Age-Friendly Communities to create a framework that will support federal coordination on aging-related priorities. It was developed by experts from 16 federal agencies in partnership with community leaders in the aging services network and is intended to spark dialogue at the local, state, and federal levels about how the public and private sectors can make an inclusive vision for aging in America a reality.  

The day after the federal release, Pennsylvania’s Governor Josh Shapiro formally unveiled the Commonwealth’s 10-year strategic plan called, “Aging Our Way, PA: A Plan for Lifelong Independence.” Designed to serve as a roadmap for providing older adult services in Pennsylvania, its framework addresses everyday issues such as healthcare, transportation, housing, social connections, and long-term services and supports. During development, it brought together 29 different state agencies, outside organizations, stakeholders in 67 counties, including the state’s 52 local area agencies on aging, and took into consideration feedback from over 20,000 people, including older adults and caregivers. 

Such plans are called Multisector Plans for Aging (previously known as Master Plans for Aging). States like Pennsylvania have committed to engaging in efforts to develop and follow a strategic, cross-sector, and comprehensive plan to address the diverse needs of older adults, align state and local priorities, break down silos across state and local leadership, leverage public-private partnerships, and use data to track progress and identify gaps.

For AARP Pennsylvania, the development of “Aging Our Way, PA” was an important undertaking as it aligns with AARP’s core mission of enhancing the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians. Before the Shapiro Administration even took office, AARP supported and advocated for the creation of a MPA for Pennsylvania.  

“Aging Our Way, PA” will serve as the catalyst to Pennsylvania’s enrollment in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, which is the United States affiliate of the World Health Organization Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for rapid population aging and the parallel trend of urbanization.  

AARP Pennsylvania has a long-standing commitment to support the state’s efforts to help make the state more age-friendly – from increasing financial security to expanding support for caregivers and improving health and safety.  Creating an ‘age-friendly’ agenda for  Pennsylvania is not just about growing old. It is about making improvements in areas like housing, transportation, home and community-based services and supports to benefit Pennsylvanians of all ages, every day. We encourage all Pennsylvanians to learn more about “Aging Our Way, PA” today.  

Bill Johnston-Walsh is the Pennsylvania director of AARP.