AustinUP hosted a focus group on Saturday, March 5, 2016, at Wildflower Terrace in the Mueller neighborhood. We welcomed 34 participants. Mary Anne Connolly, principal at MACMedia and founder of @changehoweage Twitter and Facebook feeds, facilitated a 90-minute discussion about the aspects, features, people, etc. that make a neighborhood age-friendly.
We looked at neighborhoods using the 8 Domains of Livability as a guide. For example, when discussing open spaces and buildings, we asked, “Does your neighborhood have adequate green spaces – with seating? Are they well maintained? Do you feel safe there?” When discussing social participation, we asked, “Are neighborhood events held at times convenient for older people?” It was a lively discussion.
A few general comments from the group:
“I’d like to see more “naturally occurring” retirement communities located within the neighborhood, i.e., people who live in close proximity who carpool together, shop together and look out for one another. Rental units could be reserved for seniors. Let’s create pockets of these senior communities all around Austin.”
“Retirement communities aren’t desirable for all. But whatever housing option you choose, it has to be affordable. That’s the main problem right now. We don’t have enough affordable options for taking care of our seniors. If the community also includes younger residents, that might help.”
We chose a condo off Mesa Drive in Northwest Hills specifically in order to be able to walk to grocery stores, church, bus stops and banks. When thinking about neighborhoods, city planners need to think about destination….i.e., where do people want to go and need to go?”
“I live in an intergenerational environment. But social options for my age group are limited. If we don’t create it, it doesn’t happen.”