THE POPULATION OF Augusta is aging, but what are we doing about it? Are we preparing for Maine’s changing demographic?

The answer lies with the Augusta Age Friendly committee, a group of community members devoted to making Augusta a livable community for all ages and supporting healthy aging. To be sure, “livable communities have diverse features that satisfy the needs of people of all ages, incomes and abilities.” Augusta rated a score of 58 out of 100 last January by the Public Policy Institute, not bad in relation to others, but certainly room for improvement.

To see where our community stands today, the committee sponsored a phone survey of approximately 400 residents over the summer that was centered on eight specific areas or domains. We will go into depth on each of these domains in future articles, so for now we will just list them: outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation; housing; social participation; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication and information; and community support and health services. We were able to have this survey conducted by AARP, and it can be found online at

The committee has also secured a grant from the Gorman Foundation that has enabled us to hire a consultant to conduct focus group meetings in January and a public meeting to help narrow down our initial focus on specific areas of opportunity and work with us to develop a written action plan to put before the city council. The focus group meetings are from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lithgow Public Library Community Room; 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Cony High School Library; and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 at the Inn at City Hall Auditorium. The timing for this couldn’t be better as next year the city must prepare a 10-year comprehensive plan.

The work doesn’t just end there now that we have gotten Augusta certified by the World Health Organization Age Friendly Network. It just started as we continue to implement the action plan and make improvements around the city, maybe some large, or maybe some small. Maybe it is just a bench to rest on at the Shaw’s shopping plaza or helping an elderly senior connect with a handyman service. Every effort to make life more livable for all counts as a win in this community effort.

In addition, age friendly is business friendly, bringing in and encouraging people of all ages to live and work here in our city, bringing prosperity to all in a healthy environment.

We can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Facebook at Augusta Age-Friendly (be sure to check us out and “like & share” our page) and soon we hope to be on a website. Then there is our sticker campaign to get the word out. We have created our own city Facebook graphic logo and made it into a window sticker for cars and businesses. Show your support and contact us to get your Augusta Age Friendly sticker to display. We meet at 5:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month at Augusta City Hall and the public is always welcome.

Bob MacDougall is a retiree, resides in Augusta and is a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program and AARP, often on legislative issues affecting seniors at the State House. He serves as chairman of the Augusta Age Friendly initiative as well as being on the AARP state advisory board. This is the first of a series of eight columns about the initiative.