In 2018, Fishers was the first city in Indiana to be to join AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. An Age-Friendly Community supports and values its citizens while actively engaging residents and addressing their needs.
As part of this designation, the City was tasked with creating a three-year action plan for to improve livability in Fishers for people of all ages. To develop a three-year action plan, various Fishers residents united to create the Age-Friendly Committee and bring to life their vision of an inclusive community.
“The Age-Friendly Fishers Action Plan is the next step in creating a vibrant community where all ages and abilities can thrive,” said Mayor Scott Fadness. “This project showcases how our community can come together to share ideas and work collectively to improve our city.”
The Age-Friendly Fishers Action Plan was finalized in December 2019 with the vision of Fishers becoming a place where residents are well-informed about available resources in order to live safely and independently as they age. Throughout 2019, the Age-Friendly Committee sought the opinions of Fishers residents to ensure the community’s needs were noted. Through public input sessions, a booth at the Fishers Farmers’ Market Freebirds Day, and an online survey, residents were invited to share their ideas and help to improve their city.
“This accreditation is so important for any city, especially the City of Fishers,” said Jean Ross, owner of Kaybe.US and member of the Age-Friendly Fishers Committee “We’re known as being such a young and entrepreneurial city, but we’re also starting to take care of our parents. Reaching out and collaborating with AARP on this initiative allows a collaboration to make sure our city is designed for anybody that wants to live here.”
Data shows that community members are most concerned about transportation, housing, health, and communication. In order to carry out the vision, the City will implement five strategies and monitor the progress over the next three years. Fishers will strive to create innovative facilities, promote housing developments that allow residents to remain home as they age, develop age-friendly transportation strategies, simplify access to healthcare and other services, and make information more accessible.
“I’ll be able to stay here with my three daughters,” said Fishers resident and AARP volunteer Tish Biggs, who also serves on the Age-Friendly Fishers Committee. “My husband and I moved here from Ohio to be in a community that supported people of our age. Age-Friendly Fishers means that we have a welcoming place to finish out our life.”
Along with the action plan, Fishers is also working on ways to connect residents ages 50 and better with the community. Fishers Parks’ Freebirds initiative offers a social club for empty nesters and older that offers residents the opportunity to socialize, meet new friends, and get involved in the community. They meet once a month (meetings are on hold through the fall due to COVID-19 precautions), and the Parks Department also hosts several Freebird events throughout the year, including the annual St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon, Thanksgiving Luncheon, and National Senior Citizens Day Luncheon.
By 2040, Fishers is expected to have more than 130,000 residents and the City wants to grow with its residents to ensure that all ages are welcomed. Age-Friendly Fishers seeks to improve the quality of life for residents of all ages and abilities by improving the communication of existing community resources, partnering and collaborating with community stakeholders, and advocating for infrastructure and public spaces that are safe, accessible, and equitable for all residents.