Growing Number Of Wisconsin Cities Committing To Be ‘Age-Friendly’

Plans Formulating In 5 Communities To Improve Housing, Transportation To Keep People At Home

Elderly man on sidewalk
Chris Goldberg (CC-BY-NC)

The city of La Crosse is the fifth municipality in Wisconsin to make a commitment since 2017 to becoming an “age-friendly” community.

La Crosse becomes the largest city to be designated in the AARP Age-Friendly Network of Age-Friendly Communities, joining Wausau, Sheboygan, Greendale and Shorewood.

“We have more and more older people. That population, 60 and over, is going to double very soon,” said Noreen Holmes, a member of the La Crosse Livable for All committee. “We need to start looking at how can we make our communities agefriendly. How can we keep people enjoying a high quality of life as we move forward with an aging population.

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AARP and La Crosse city officials surveyed 750 residents last year with the goal to identify issues that affect people as they grow older. More than 90 percent of residents identified housing, transportation and access to outdoor spaces and buildings, including the sidewalk, that were important issues the city needs to take into account to make La Crosse an agefriendly community.

It’s those basic things that we do with the driver’s license, take away the driver’s license, you still have to be able to go get stamps, you still have to pick up prescriptions and unfortunately the more we age, the more we go to the doctor,” said Sara Wrobel, a committee member who is also executive director of Causeway Caregivers, a La Crosse non-profit that helps find volunteers to help elderly and disabled residents with basic needs. “You have to have that transportation network for people regardless of your age.”

The La Crosse Livable for All committee is starting the planning process that could take up to two years and will lead to an action plan.

Shorewood is the only Wisconsin community to complete that step so far.