Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nashville prepares for aging baby boomers who have no plans to slow down

Nashville prepares for aging baby boomers who have no plans to slow down Committees study ways to make city more accessible By Chris Echegaray • THE TENNESSEAN • September 17, 2009 Nashville is planning for a not-too-distant future when one in four people is 65 or older and the city needs better sidewalks, public transportation and fitness opportunities to keep an aging population mobile. Those findings and others were unveiled Wednesday at the FiftyForward Knowles Center as part of the yearlong Nashville Livability Project. Several committees were charged with finding ways to keep Nashville livable for a "tsunami" of baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — as they age. Transportation, housing, health, work force, civic engagement and safety were at the project's core. "This study places the issue on their radar," said Patrick Willard, AARP Tennessee advocacy director. "This lets them know they have to start planning." The baby boomer generation has long been a planning focus for the nation as it carried elections, made up the bulk of the work force and is expected to work and live longer than previous groups. Mayor Karl Dean, a baby boomer himself, said the city already has made itself more accessible for older residents by making structures compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sally Solesby, 60, the center's director, said she is already looking to the city to provide services in her future, particularly transportation, because she will be working long past retirement age. "It's by need and desire," she said. She lives 15 miles away from work and at some point would like to use public transportation instead of drive. Like most baby boomers, Solesby wants to remain active. "I see it as vital in making Nashville a livable city," Solesby said. "Transportation when coming to the city is important … if you want to take in the symphony or go to TPAC." The task force, made up by many people from several agencies, was formed in 2008.

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