- The older population in the Greater Charlottesville area is growing…rapidly.
- Planning for the needs of this growing population will serve the needs of all residents in our community.
- By collaborating and working together we can make our community a better place for people of all ages to live, work, and play.
“By 2024, our area will have one in four people over the age of 65,” said Marta Keane, CEO of the Jefferson Area Board for Aging and an organizer behind the Charlottesville Area Alliance.
Data from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia projects the number of people over 65 in the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission will climb to 57,013 in 2030. That’s up from 24,488 in the year 2000.
“We know that the demographic is growing, and we know that people are choosing to age in community here and in the surrounding counties,” Keane said. “They’re not moving away, and we know we’re a destination for retirees.”
Keane said the organization will measure eight aspects that the World Health Organization considers when investigating whether communities are prepared for people to age in a healthy manner. These include transportation, housing, social participation and the built environment.
The alliance consists in part of JABA, the Senior Center, the Alzheimer’s Association, JAUNT, CvilleVillage, Hospice of the Piedmont, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, Albemarle County and Charlottesville, The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission, and more. Click here to view a full partners list.
“Are we planning our roads properly to accommodate for people with a different type of need?,” asked Chip Boyles, executive director of the TJPDC.
For instance, the alliance could weigh in on infrastructure issues to make sure the needs of older residents are taken into consideration as growth occurs. For example, will pedestrian crossings be safe for those who may not be able to move as fast?
“What an 18-year-old might be able to do in crossing the street may not look like what an 80-year-old needs to do,” Keane said. She said a crossing being planned by the county for U.S. 250 on Pantops will have a pedestrian refuge.
“Pantops has the largest percentage of seniors anywhere in the county because of all of the different senior apartments and assisted living facilities,” Keane said. “You have to consider that they probably aren’t going to make it across all four or six lanes of traffic.”
Keane said the partnership with the TJPDC has expanded outreach efforts.
“So much of our advocacy is trying to better help planning commissions, cities and counties think about seniors when they’re thinking about their policies,” Keane said, adding the Alliance seeks to build partnerships to put the issue center-forward.
Boyles said outlying counties may able to help address affordability issues and other needs that can’t be handled solely in Charlottesville and the urban ring of Albemarle.
“I think that’s why the regional aspect of this is so important,” Boyles said. “There may be some of these needs that just are going to be tough to meet in Charlottesville or the urban ring of Charlottesville.”
Keane said the Charlottesville Area Alliance is intended to be a singular voice for aging issues, as well as an advocate and clearinghouse for resources.
“It’s about being age-friendly,” Keane said. “The point is that we want an intergenerational community … We know what attracted the millennial generation is what attracts baby boomers. It’s not an either-or situation.” (Source: Charlottesville Tomorrow)