Age Friendly Ridgewood is a collaborative team of grant-funded part-time staff (Beth Abbott, Sheila Brogan and Sue Ullrich) and many volunteers whose goal is to promote awareness of the needs of adults 55 and over when designing projects that will ultimately improve the Ridgewood community. We started this effort by conducting a needs assessment survey of Ridgewood residents 55 and older from October 2015 through February 2016.
The Community Center of Ridgewood Foundation is our valuable partner.
We are extremely grateful for funding support from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation which enabled us to publicize the survey to increase the response rate, to hire Montclair State University CREEHS to analyze the data and publish the results, to conduct focus groups to review the survey data, and to identify action plans. Their continued support will help fund our efforts to implement our action plans to make Ridgewood an Age Friendly Community.
Englewood, Garfield, Teaneck and Westwood are also receiving similar grants and we meet often to learn together and share information and plans.
Based on the survey data the following needs and resulting action items are:
There is a need for more retiree-friendly housing in diverse forms, that is accessible and affordable.
Action Item: Create advocacy team to highlight need for housing options and investigate tax relief.
Status: Advocacy team has met with numerous local entities to facilitate our education on these issues. We are supporting an Age Friendly Land Use Analysis being conducted by New Jersey Future. We plan to offer input when Ridgewood begins the process to review its Master Plan.
There is a need for improvements to specific roads and walkways, especially near the Central Business District, to increase walkability and safety.
Action Item: Create task force to highlight these needs and investigate funding a walkability study.
Status: Walkability study conducted June 2017. Sidewalk Audit conducted November 2017. Both presented to Village Council and other officials. Other priorities include improving the walkway from Ridgewood train station to Ridgecrest Housing, the addition of benches in the Central Business District and advocating for a new bus shelter at Van Neste Square.
There is a need for more flexible transportation options for those wishing to drive less.
Action Item: Create team to investigate transportation improvements and pilot enhancements.
Status: Provided free transportation to special events. Piloting extra day of senior van service. Publicizing taxi coupon program and providing free coupons.
Leveraging the Expertise of the Older Population
Older adults are looking for meaningful ways to share their skills in the community.
Action Item 1: Host a Volunteer Fair in collaboration with the Ridgewood Public Library on March 5, 2017.
Action Item 2: Become involved in a Makerspace Intergenerational Collaboration at Ridgewood High School.
Status: Volunteer Fair included over 40 organizations and attracted 250+ potential volunteers.
Status: Makerspace Intergenerational Collaboration at Ridgewood High School hosted two open houses June and September 2017 and began Monday open sessions October 2017.
Homeowners and Homebound
Many homeowners are struggling with tasks such as snow and leaf removal and handling their trash and recycling. Also some homebound residents suffer from lack of social connections.
Action Item: Develop intergenerational neighborhood connections.
Status: Conducted drive for non-food essential items to distribute to those in need in our area Summer 2017. Partnered with the Willard Home and School Association to launch Age Friendly Willard in October 2017. Coordinated with the Hawes Home and School Association to begin Age Friendly Hawes in January 2018. These Age Friendly neighborhood groups attempt to match older folks needing assistance with a nearby family willing to perform tasks such as taking garbage to the curb during snow events.
There is a need for enhanced communication of resources and events. And beneficial to all would be a greater understanding between the business community and the older population.
Action Item 1: Create AgeFriendlyRidgewood.org website.
Action Item 2: Outreach to the business community with the dual goal of assisting them and benefitting our older adults.
Status: AgeFriendlyRidgewood.org website live from March 2017. Facebook page AgeFriendlyRidgewood is active. Printed resources directory produced replicating information on our web site.
Status: Business community outreach began October 2017 with the support of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce and the Ridgewood Guild. Coordinated with Ridgewood Public Library on speakers on subjects including Medicare Part D, Social Security and Senior Identity Theft and Scams. Distributed information at Good Life Ridgewood Wellness Fair October 2017 and Downtown for the Holidays December 2017.