Aging-friendly communities generally have one or more of the six characteristics listed below.*

  1. INCLUSIVE: People of all ages, races/ethnicities, and abilities, especially elders, are welcome.
  2. SUSTAINABLE: Residents are committed to a lifestyle that is sustainable environmentally, economically, and socially. Size matters. People need to know each other, and scale determines the nature of human interaction. Small is better.
  3. HEALTHY: The community encourages and supports wellness of the mind, body, and spirit, and, to the same degree, plans and prepares programs and systems that support those dealing with disease, disability, and death.
  4. ACCESSIBLE: The setting provides easy access to the home and community. For example, all homes, businesses, and public spaces are wheelchair-friendly and incorporate universal design features. Multiple modes of transportation are encouraged.
  5. INTERDEPENDENT: The community fosters reciprocity and mutual support among family, friends, and neighbors across generations.
  6. ENGAGED: Promotes opportunities for community participation, social and civic engagement, education, and creative expression.

*Source:  Moving beyond place: Aging in Community. Generations, 33(2), 12-17, Thomas, W. H., & Blanchard, J. M. (2009).

If you know of a community in Wisconsin that represents a “best practice” example of one or more of these attributes, please send a brief description to Kristin Litzelman (