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Planning for the Aging Population

The number and proportion of seniors in the U.S. is rising quickly and dramatically. By 2030, nearly 20 percent of the population will be 65 years old or older - up from 12.4 percent in 2000, and a mere 4.1 percent in 1900. Many elders, particularly those over 75, will require more services, appropriate housing and mobility options, and meaningful community engagement opportunities to successfully age in place. This section provides information to help planners meet the evolving needs this demographic shift portends. 

  • Xu, Jeremy, 2020. "MULTIAGENCY RESPONSE TO FOOD INSECURITY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC", Best Practices Report. Tompkins County Age Friendly Center for Excellence, Cornell University Dept of City and Reg, Planning.               When COVID-19 was declared  a pandemic, this created challenges for food security in Tompkins County. A number of community organizations stepped up to the challenge and built overnight a new system for food delivery for older adults and children.


  • Planning for Aging in Place: Stimulating a Market and Government Response
    Mildred Warner, George Homsy, and Lydia Morken. 2016. Journal of Planning Education and Research, forthcoming. DOI: 10.1177/0739456X16642824

    This article explores the challenges of planning and service delivery for senior residents in communities across the urban, suburban and rural spectrum. Service delivery can help address problems of poor environmental fit in less dense settlements. This is especially important because the concentration of elderly is highest in rural areas and suburbs. We use a national 2010 survey of 1,414 municipalities across the United States to examine the impact of planning on service delivery after controlling for demographic, economic, and government finance characteristics. Multilevel regression analysis shows that planning and public engagement are key drivers of higher levels of service delivery.  Involving elders in planning not only stimulates a government response, it also helps market providers see this new market segment and respond with more services. We also find rural and suburban communities are doing more to plan for elder needs, which is important given their less favorable built environments.
  • Planning for the Aging Population: Rural Responses to the Challenge.
    Lydia Morken and Mildred Warner. 2012. Issue brief. Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University.

As the U.S. anticipates a rapid rise in older residents, municipalities of all sizes must prepare for their roles in meeting the needs of this group. This brief highlights a 2010 survey of more than 1,400 local governments across the country to learn how communities are responding, particularly in rural areas.

As nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population soon will reach senior citizen status, local governments must plan for this demographic shift. Approaches under way in New York City and greater Atlanta offer lessons for how to make cities friendlier to aging residents.