As the population ages, several important questions come to mind: What does an age-friendly society look like? What can be done to ensure our communities support the growing population of older people? Who should be responsible for making change happen that will enable older adults to age in place? Several states are working on a solution to these questions by implementing a Master Plan for Aging (MPA). According to AARP, a Master Plan for Aging is a blueprint lasting for 10 or more years that focuses on the restructuring of state and local policy, programs, and funding to support aging well in the community. These plans should address the physical environment, social and emotional well-being, and supportive services, and be monitored using measurable outcomes. MPAs can be instituted by a governor or through legislative action, so advocates can explore both avenues to push for their state to implement an MPA.
One state, California, is emerging as a leader in the successful implementation of an MPA. Launched in 2021, its Master Plan for Aging aims to meet targets that are trackable through their Data Dashboard for Aging: developing millions of new housing options, increasing life expectancy, increasing life satisfaction, and creating one million high quality caregiving jobs. Meeting these targets means achieving their Five Bold Goals: a choice for all stages and ages to live in supportive communities, reimaging health and healthcare, promoting inclusion and equity, supporting caregivers, and ensuring lifelong economic security. In addition to California, other states have either implemented a Master Plan for Aging (Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Texas) or are in the development stages of establishing an MPA.
There are other factors that are important to developing a successful Master Plan for Aging. This includes significant involvement from stakeholders in the development process, such as through town halls, forums, and the creation of workgroups to make sure that a plan is being developed that meets the needs of your state.
To help advocates, legislators and policymakers create their own master plans for aging, the Center for Healthcare Strategies has designed a tool kit for developing an MPA, Getting Started with a Master Plan for Aging. This can be used by states that are developing plans, but can also be used to gain buy-in from legislators.
The population of older adults is rapidly expanding. Seventy-seven percent of older adults want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. States must prioritize creating an age-friendly environment so that this population can remain in their communities. The expansion of MPAs into other states will depend on the success of those that currently exist.