With Maine home to one of the oldest populations in the country, it’s not surprising it also has the largest number of communities working on age-friendly initiatives.

Of the approximately 200 AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, more than 50 are located in Maine. Now Bath is looking to make it 51.

The AARP network is an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities Program which provides resources and guidances for communities to adopt age-friendly practices.

Bath Area Age Friendly and Livable Communities has been working on developing an age-friendly agenda for the greater Bath community since January, holding a few meetings and drawing input from the various communities.

“It’s a grassroots effort,” said City Councilor Phyllis Bailey. “The momentum of the group has been building.”


Councilors last week approved a letter of support for the initiative, the first step toward officially joining the initiative. Bailey said the next step will be to finish an application and send it in to AARP, which should happen this month.

Joining the network won’t cost the city money, said Bailey, but it will give the group access to best practices developed in other aging communities and some guidelines on how to develop a plan to understand and address aging issues in Bath. AARP will provide technical support, help the group apply for grants, conduct an assessment and offer advice.

“What I really like about it is it’s not cookie cutter,” said Bailey.

Bailey said that the Bath area initiative is still in its early stages and it’s not exactly clear what form it will take — though it will likely adopt a shorter name in the coming months. From the beginning, it’s also been open to approaching the issue regionally with towns like Woolwich, Arrowsic and Phippsburg, if those towns are interested.

The Bath area is not unfamiliar with efforts to make the community more age-friendly. Organizations like Bath Housing and Harpswell Aging at Home have launched a number of efforts to make the area more comfortable for seniors, from free home repairs to make their living spaces safer to hosting community networks for social interactions.

“I’ve been impressed reading in the paper what they’re doing,” said Bailey of those groups’ efforts.


With initiatives like that in place, it’s yet to be determined what role the new group will take in addressing aging issues in Bath. A questionnaire for Bath area seniors planned for the fall and Main Street Bath’s Downtown Tomorrow report will help inform future initiatives.

The most recent group to join the AARP network is a neighbor — Georgetown officially became a member this summer. More than one-third of the town’s population is age 65 or older.

Jim Peavey, one of the organizers of Age Friendly Georgetown, said that its efforts grew out of the last year and a half of discussions about the town’s comprehensive plan.

“They have a ton of resources,” he said of the AARP network. “They provide all sorts of templates for the work (and) a lot of studies that tell what other towns have found.”

The greatest resource, said Peavey, was connections with other aging communities that can help guide them to adopt age-friendly practices.

The efforts are already paying off. According to Peavey, the group has joined with Bath Housing and Habitat for Humanity to make homes safer for seniors. They’re also working with People Plus’ volunteer transportation network to help seniors be more mobile.

“The thing that’s neat about it is it’s encouraging older adults to take part in the changes that can make their community a better place,” said Bailey.

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