What's New in Aging: An update on the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh initiative

Efforts to bring generations together, reduce isolation among older adults and improve the region as a place to age are ongoing and gaining momentum, say backers of the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh initiative.

A variety of community and grassroots groups are taking part in the project spearheaded by AARP and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging, with backing of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County government officials. A 30-point action plan was unveiled in October, and project leaders delivered an update on progress since then at a briefing Thursday in the City-County Building.

“This is about making the region more inclusive and respectful of every generation,” said project manager Laura Poskin, suggesting other adults and children also benefit when those in later years are active in the community.

Among several Age-Friendly-related efforts that were highlighted:

• A series of spirited “Crossings” events, in which generations came together in the streets at busy East End intersections to highlight their dangers — especially for older or disabled pedestrians — have led to initial discussions with city officials about safety improvements. 

• The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has been piloting an inter-generational program in which seniors from the Community Life program in Homestead come Downtown to collaborate on different types of arts projects with youngsters from a child care center.

• The Jewish Healthcare Foundation has grown to more than 200 participants its Virtual Senior Academy, in which individuals who may have difficulty getting out of the house can share in live online classes, clubs and other activities that reduce their sense of isolation or loneliness.

With more such efforts on top of those beginnings, “Pittsburgh has an opportunity to be a model,” Mayor Bill Peduto said. He suggested government officials can provide a baseline of services and security to help older adults, but it’s up to community groups like those involved in Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh to create and carry out programs that give more fulfilling opportunities late in life.

The program backers plan to give quarterly updates on their progress, with the next planned May 31 at the Allegheny County Courthouse. More information on the effort is available through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging website.

Gary Rotstein: grotstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1255.


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