Teaneck announced this week that it has joined a global alliance working to improve the lives of older residents. The township is the first Bergen County community, and only the third in New Jersey, to join the AARP’s Age-Friendly Network of States and Cities.
Teaneck’s entry into the network was celebrated at a June 14 reception attended by Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin, Township Manager William Broughton, state AARP leadership, and representatives of the nearly three-year-old Age-Friendly Teaneck initiative.
“You can tell a lot about a community by the way they care for people who are aging in the community,” said Broughton, adding that he is looking forward to the additional resources that will come from the alliance with the AARP and the more than 260 communities around the country that have also joined. The township and Age-Friendly Teaneck initiative have worked together on a number of efforts, from pledging to make streets more pedestrian-friendly to disseminating a resource guide and promoting key services to older adults.
The mayor said that he and the rest of the township council are committed to addressing challenges faced by older adults and would welcome any suggestions on how to assist elderly residents who don’t have families nearby or other needed support.
“As mayor, I have seen that even something like getting your snow shoveled becomes a big deal for older residents,” Hameeduddin said. Like most American suburbs, Teaneck is a town whose homes, streets, and public spaces were designed primarily with an eye toward the families with young children who moved here in droves in the 1950s and 60s. And like most American suburbs, Teaneck is seeing its population age rapidly, with nearly 17 percent of the township’s 40,000 residents now over 65.
The concern in Teaneck and elsewhere is that — without a concerted effort to create more walkable streets, affordable housing, accessible transportation, and targeted services — older residents with physical challenges will live more isolated lives or feel compelled to move away.
The number of communities in the AARP network has doubled in the past year, said state AARP Director Stephanie Hunsinger, before presenting the mayor with a certificate commemorating Teaneck’s membership in the network.
In addition to gaining access to aging experts and other professional resources, participating communities can share ideas and strategies, Hunsinger said. “They can talk about what worked and best practices, and also about what didn’t work.” AARP surveys show that vast percentages of older adults would prefer to remain living in their communities as they age.
Launched in early 2016 with funding and organizational support from the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, Age-Friendly Teaneck has already been working in partnership with other local communities with similar organizations.
To learn more about Age-Friendly Teaneck, visit agefriendlyteaneck.org