Age-focused community meetings coming to Jaffrey, Antrim

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 5/9/2019 1:38:41 PM
Modified: 5/9/2019 1:38:31 PM

The Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC) will host five focus group meetings over the next month-plus to develop a better understanding of the needs of all age groups in the Monadnock region. 

The conversations are part of a larger, two-year long initiative that aims to gather data to promote “age-friendly” communities in southwestern New Hampshire. The data will inform a regional report and individual assessments for each of the 33 towns SWRPC works with. 

“We can continue to watch the trends and hope that they change, or we can be proactive to take steps to shift the trends and be better prepared,” said SWRPC Senior Planner Lisa Murphy.

Conversations will take place on May 16 at the Winchester Town Hall, May 22 at the Antrim Town Hall, May 30 at Whitcomb Hall in Swanzey, June 3 at the Jaffrey Town Office, and June 5 at the Walpole Town Hall. 

All conversations will take place between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Murphy said plans are being made to live-stream the Jaffrey session to reach a larger audience. 

“We need to have good representation from all towns, which is why we tried to place these in locations where anyone can attend,” Murphy said. 

Murphy said the initiative – funded by a a Tufts Health Plan Foundation grant – was inspired by regional and state plans created a few years ago that showed that the state’s senior population is on the rise, while the population of those in their 20s and 30s is declining.

Projections for southwest New Hampshire show that the 65-plus age group will increase from 15 to 26 percent of the total population between 2010 and 2040.

In comparison, the number of children under the age of 15 has decreased by 14 percent from 2000 to 2010. 

“We don’t want to see an unhealthy balance,” Murphy said. “You need to have a good balance of all ages to have a vibrant community that will be successful.”

Murphy said specific areas of interest revolve around housing, transportation, employment, social engagement, and civic participation. 

“We need to be able to help our communities prepare for what’s needed for the aging population… on the flip side, the real challenge might be finding out how to maintain and attract the younger population,” Murphy said. 

In addition to the conversations, SWRPC has also been sending out surveys and doing other outreach activities. 

To date, Murphy said over 1,000 surveys have been filed out with two-thirds of them being filled out by people 55 and older. 

Next year, Murphy said the plan will be to submit individual town reports to the communities they work with, so that towns can use the data to inform zoning and other changes that could take place to make the community more friendly for all age groups. 

After this initiative, Murphy said SWRPC would like to get another grant so they can work with some communities individually on specific strategies to implement changes. 

To take the survey, go to swrpc.org/age-focused or contact Murphy at lmurphy@swrpc.org or at 357-0557.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. 




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