Building a community for a lifetime


After World War II, Montgomery County, like many other communities, built the infrastructure for a new generation, the baby boom. New highways, housing, schools and parks appeared. Today, as baby boomers reach retirement age, the county is beginning a new kind of infrastructure, mapping a community for a lifetime where residents can live healthy, safe and vital lives as they age.
The demographic shift in population toward older residents is occurring in all of Maryland’s counties but nowhere as dramatically as Montgomery County. More than 120,000 adults over the age of 65 reside in Montgomery County, and by 2020, projections are that one out of four county residents will be 60 years of age or older. The large majority of those age 65 and older continue to live in the same homes and want to age in place.
Recognizing the change, Montgomery County government has set a “senior agenda” in motion that leaders want to be more than a paper plan. County Executive Ike Leggett and the County Council adopted the vision and goals of a senior agenda in 2012, proposed by the county’s advisory Commission on Aging. Two other counties in Maryland — Charles and St. Mary — have already used the model of Montgomery County’s senior agenda to adopt plans of their own. More counties are likely to follow.
The senior agenda addresses the concerns of those who want to age in place in their homes or in their community. It expresses a commitment to older adults and recognizes their economic, cultural and social value in the county. The agenda focuses on seven priority issues: transportation, housing, health, recreation, communications, employment and safety. Each priority contains a vision statement and broad objectives that give flexibility to the county to develop programs and services that address needs.
As an example, the vision for housing is “Montgomery County will promote choices of dwelling types so that as the needs and preferences of older adults change, they can age in place, downsize, choose rental or ownership, or find housing with the appropriate level of supportive services without having to leave the community.” One of the broad goals involves promoting and developing
affordable housing.
Under employment, the vision is “Montgomery County will recognize the extent and value of the contribution of older adults to the economy.” One of the objectives related to employment calls for job fairs, partnerships, and forums to help older adults prepare themselves to continue in or re-enter the workforce and find jobs. The senior agenda is available at the Montgomery County website,, or by calling the senior resource line at 240-777-3000.
The county’s Commission on Aging developed the senior agenda based on forums with older adults, research and discussion. The commission has 28 members, all volunteers, appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the County Council.
Judith Levy, a Bethesda resident, is the commission’s newly elected chair. She said, “The commission advises county government and advocates on behalf of older residents. We are monitoring the county’s progress on the senior agenda.”  n
Judith Welles, a local writer, formerly chaired the Montgomery County Commission on Aging.

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