Norwood, Massachusetts, age-friendly community framework, aging
Nestled just outside the I-95 beltway, the Town of Norwood, Massachusetts is a community southwest of Boston that takes pride in the history of residents staying in, or returning to, the community across the lifespan. Projections indicate that by 2035, about one out of three Norwood residents will be age 60 or older—24% of the Town’s population will be between the ages of 60 and 79, with an additional 8% age 80 and older (see Appendix A). The desire to stay and a growing older adult population lends to many multi-generational families within the community, creating a sense of supportive social capital. The strong desire among residents to stay in Norwood is matched by a strong level of collaboration among Town leaders and dedication to building an inclusive Age Friendly environment that supports residents of all ages and abilities.
The Norwood Council on Aging (Norwood COA) is a municipal department charged with the mission to “identify the needs of older adults along with the available resources within the community, to educate the community-at-large on the problems of aging and the needs of older citizens, to design and promote services that are needed to serve older people, and to serve as advocates, and to enhance the lives of older adults in the community” (Norwood COA website). The Norwood COA is dedicated to accomplishing this mission and ensuring that the evolving needs of Norwood’s large and growing population of older adults are met through age friendly planning and policy. Services provided include legal, financial, and medical information and services, as well as programming to include games, arts, exercise, and trips.
Kerri McCarthy, Executive Director of the Town of Norwood COA, is guiding partnerships with other town departments and organizations in the region to build a community that is age friendly for all residents. In December 2019, the Town of Norwood was recognized as a certified member of the AARP Network of Age Friendly Communities. The milestone marked the start of a multi-year initiative, in collaboration with the Elder Care Alliance of the Neponset River Chamber, to become an age friendly community. In January 2020, the Norwood COA invited collaboration from the Center for Social & Demographic Research on Aging (CSDRA) in the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston to initiate a needs assessment and explore the age-friendly community framework, as outlined by the WHO.
2020 presented multiple challenges in the Town of Norwood. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community of Norwood experienced a significant storm in June that resulted in the indefinite closure of a longstanding community resource, Norwood Hospital. In order to accommodate public health recommendations and capacity of the Town’s leadership, the scope of this project was adjusted. Specifically, 2 community forums and 3 resident focus groups, initially scheduled in March 2020, were forced to be cancelled. The purpose of this report is to share highlights from completed components of the needs assessment and to provide a foundation for future input from the community and future age friendly planning efforts.
Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //scholarworks.umb.edu/engage
Coyle, Caitlin and Rouleau, Beth, "Envisioning an Age-Friendly Norwood" (2020). Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging Publications. 69.