SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Summit County leaders want residents of all ages to speak up this month and give input on eight key areas of community life that AARP considers “Domains of Livability.” 

What You Need To Know

  • Summit County has joined nearly 600 U.S. communities in working to earn an AARP Age-Friendly designation

  • Through October, the county will gather input it deems critical via surveys and in-person gatherings

  • Communities must show they are working to enable all residents to live, age and thrive locally

  • The five-year process will result in an action and evaluation plan that is implemented, followed by new goals

This is the first step in Summit County’s effort to earn an AARP Age-Friendly designation, the county said. Summit County applied to AARP and was accepted into the Age-Friendly program in 2020, joining nearly 600 communities across the country also working to become age-friendly, according to AARP. 

Local officials estimate seniors will make up about 30% of Summit County’s population by 2030. According to AARP, by 2034, there will be more Americans over 65 than children under 18. 

To earn AARP’s Age-Friendly designation, Summit County must show it has worked to enable people of any age, income level and ability to thrive here, the county said. 

Residents who are older, care for someone older, work on behalf of older adults or just want to support the AARP Age-Friendly project can participate.

In the information-gathering stage of the project, residents are asked to tell Summit County how they want to “live, age and thrive” in areas that include:

  • Outdoor and public spaces
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social participation
  • Respect and social inclusion
  • Work and civic engagement
  • Communications and information
  • Community and health services

To give input, residents can attend a virtual public Zoom meeting from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 6, or take a self-paced survey available online here.

They also can opt to attend an “On the Table” style gathering of six to eight people hosted later this month by one of several Summit County groups. 

Organizations interested in hosting an event should pick up a meeting kit before Oct. 10 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library and its branches, or sign up online and download a kit. Event dates and locations will be announced.

The goal is to make Summit County more livable for everyone, and in the process earn AARP’s Age-Friendly designation, the county said. Public input, which can be submitted through mid-October, is critical to that process.

County Executive Ilene Shapiro’s administration launched the initiative with support from Direction Home, Akron-Canton Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities, Akron Community Foundation and other local groups. An advisory committee, representing many of the groups, was selected, the county said.

The Age-Friendly Program cycle in Summit County rolls out over five years. The first step is to complete a county-wide survey and host listening sessions, the county said. That information will be used to develop and implement an action and evaluation plan. Following that, the county said it plans to evaluate the process and set new goals.

According to AARP, the Age-Friendly initiative is expected to enable local leaders to identify and understand community needs and provide a framework for improvements. It’s designed to spur collaboration between community groups and promote change that can benefit all residents.