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Building Communities for an Aging Population



Planning and Creating Age-Friendly Communities

In This Episode:

[00:57] Co-host Paul Zykofsky and guests Kathy Sykes and Bill Armbruster are introduced.

[01:24] Kathy shares why she’s interested in the field of aging and public health.

[01:47] Bill discusses why he’s interested in the field of aging and public health.

[02:56] Why is planning for an aging population so important?

[04:43] What can we learn from the change in how communities have developed and from the past generation?

[06:57] Kathy states what the USEPA’s interest is in this issue of an aging population.

[07:49] What are some aspects of the issue of rural versus urban communities?

[10:48] Does AARP or the USEPA have a guide for communities on how to think about, and what they should be doing, in terms of planning for an aging population?

[14:05] Are there examples of places that have embraced planning for an aging population?

[17:07] How does one get started in planning an age-friendly community?

[20:36] How much could be saved in seniors’ health costs if age-friendly communities were created? 


Paul Zykofsky directs the Local Government Commission’s (LGC) programs related to land use and transportation planning, community design, and health and the built environment. In the past 20 years, he has worked with over 300 communities to improve conditions for infill development, walking, bicycling, and transit. Mr. Zykofsky provides technical assistance to communities throughout the nation on issues related to smart growth, infill development, transit-oriented development, street and sidewalk design, health and the built environment, and public participation in the planning process. Mr. Zykofsky is a co-author of Building Livable Communities: A Policymaker’s Guide to Transit Oriented Development and Emergency Response: Traffic Calming and Traditional Neighborhood Streets. In 2006, Mr. Zykofsky co-wrote (with Dan Burden of Walkable Communities) the section on “walkability” in the American Planning Association’s Planning and Urban Design Standards.

Guests and Organizations:

Bill Armbruster manages the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, which is a program within AARP Livable Communities. He has been with AARP since 2000, joining as an associate state director for AARP New York. In that role he served the upstate and western region of the Empire State and was responsible for the development, implementation and assessment for community outreach programming. That body of work included livable and age-friendly communities initiatives, partner development and grassroots volunteer organizing for a 30 county region both near and far from his Rochester home base. In addition to his work at AARP, Bill has extensive experience in corporate wellness programs, occupational rehabilitation and ergonomics, pain treatment and physical therapy.

Kathy Sykes is Senior Advisor for Aging and Public Health at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since 1983, Kathy has held policy positions in the U.S. Senate and Congress and in federal agencies: U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, with Congressman Obey and at the NIOSH within CDC and for almost 20 years at the Environmental Protection Agency, where she developed the Aging Initiative that focused on environmental health issues and the built environment. She also serves on Washington, D.C.’s the Mayor’s Age-Friendly Task Force. She is a fellow of the GSA and currently Chair of the Social Research Policy and Practice Section. Ms. Sykes holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration and a certificate in Health Services Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Take Away Quotes:

“We’ve got a huge demographic shift that’s occurring right now. I’m part of the baby boomers, and there’s an awful lot of us, and our population over 65 will double by the year 2050.”—Kathy

“I think a lot of communities aren’t ready. A lot of communities plan for the 35-year-old, and they think about youth, and families is where they plan, but they haven’t planned for those people who hit 50, 65, and now even, it’s not uncommon to be 90, over 100.”—Bill

“We now have many more people who are able to get involved at their community level to make a difference for people of all ages but also to make communities think about the people who are moving at slower paces.”—Kathy


How livable is your community? Check out the AARP’s Livability Index to find out how neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. score for the services and amenities that impact your life the most.

AARP Livable Communities

The AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities

Request EPA’s Aging Resources online

EPA’s Guidebook to Smart Growth and Active Aging

Chartbook on Aging-Related Statistics

Local Government Commission

2018 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference – February 1-3, 2018