In 2017, New York achieved a landmark distinction for older adults and their communities, becoming the first state in the nation enrolled into the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and AARP Network of Age-Friendly States.
This milestone was followed by Executive Order No. 190 – signed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in November 2018 – embedding age-friendly and livable principles into state policies, operation and procurement.
New York is home to 2.9 million New Yorkers over the age of 65. Of those, 421,000 New Yorkers are over the age of 85. But being "age-friendly" is about designing communities for everyone – not just our oldest citizens.
"New York is committed to creating thriving communities that support and attract people of all ages, and this executive order will continue to maximize our efforts as the first age-friendly state in the country," Governor Cuomo said. "Incorporating age-friendly smart growth principles into the fabric of state government will support community development and improve the health and quality of life of all New Yorkers.”
Age-friendly concepts include supporting healthy aging and aging in place, and supporting new business and procurement models in housing, construction, and information technology. These are achieved through system-level changes, such as offering incentives for age-friendly concepts, establishing new program and procurement guidelines and financing models, or implementing regulatory changes.
"Communities that understand and adopt age-friendly, smart growth principles thrive by attracting new residents to New York and retaining others, including the growing older adult population,” said New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen. “Older New Yorkers are a vital part of their communities, contributing economically, socially, and intellectually through volunteerism, civic engagement, employment, and tourism. New York is leading by example in developing a comprehensive approach to incorporate age-friendly principles in communities across the state."
Communities that have received the "Age-friendly" designation commit to addressing the eight domains of livability. These domains are community features that have a major impact on the well-being of residents.
The 8 Domains of Livability
- outdoor spaces and buildings
- social participation
- respect and social inclusion
- work and civic engagement
- communication and information
- community and health services
Age-friendly New York is a component of the state’s Health Across Policies initiative. This initiative systematically considers the health implications of decisions made by all government entities regarding public policies; avoids harmful health impacts in order to improve population health and health equity; and incorporates health considerations into policies, programs, and initiatives led by non-health agencies.
This approach also utilizes the goals of New York's Prevention Agenda, a blueprint to improve the health of all New Yorkers in five priority areas and reduce health disparities, including reductions in obesity and diabetes, improvements in environmental health, and enhancements in mental health services. Meeting these goals will require attention to factors outside of health care, such as access to outdoor spaces and healthy foods, and improvements in education, housing, and jobs.
New York’s designation as the first Age-Friendly State is a signature accomplishment that brings New York into a partnership with the largest and one of the most active outreach organizations in America. Municipalities throughout the country have earned the age-friendly designation, but until 2017, no state had achieved that honor.