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Senate Panel Hears Testimony On Creating Age-Friendly Communities

Older Americans face many challenges as they age. One big challenge is the issue of isolation and loneliness.

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging heard testimony on Wednesday from stakeholders about ways to create and foster age-friendly communities. Many cities, including Phoenix, are already thinking about this very issue.

Last October, the Phoenix City Council voted to make Phoenix an AARP Age Friendly Community.

On paper, it sounds good, but what does it actually mean? Dana Marie Kennedy is the state director of AARP Arizona.

"It means we want to be able to raise our families, work and then retire same place we may have lived entire life," Kennedy said.

For the city’s part, the plan is to look at eight domains of livability, created by the World Health Organization. They include transportation, housing, and health care to name a few.

But it’s not just those tangible things.

The committee’s chairman, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine says, "One domain that stood out to me is the need for respect and inclusion. In age-friendly communities, seniors are respected for their past and present accomplishments."

Another issue that was brought up at the end of the hearing was internet access. All three witnesses testified that increased access to the internet could help older adults when it comes to employment opportunities and staying socially connected. 

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.