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Sunday, June 16, 2019

From left, Age-Friendly Teaneck project director Elizabeth Davis, deputy manager Dean Kazinci, township manager William Broughton, State AARP director Stephanie Hunsinger, Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin and Age-Friendly Teaneck project coordinator Jackie Kates.

(Courtesy of Age-Friendly Teaneck) Teaneck is pledging a more age-friendly future, announcing this week it has joined a global alliance that works 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 this impressive 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.

As an AARP network community, township officials will continue to collaborate with Age-Friendly Teaneck and its five task forces, whose members include residents of diverse backgrounds and experience, bringing a wide range of perspectives to their communal efforts to make Teaneck an easier place to grow old.

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.”

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 the website at agefriendlyteaneck.org.