Age-Friendly Communities

Outdoor spaces and buildings | Transportation | Housing | Social participation | Respect and social inclusion | Civic participation and employment | Communication and information | Community and health services |

graphic image of the World Health Organization's 8 domains of livability, each in a small circle encircling a large photo of a happy multigenerational family running across a lawnAging and Disability Services is committed to helping communities become more age-friendly under criteria established by AARP and the World Health Organization, called “The 8 Domains of Livability.”

Aging and Disability Services can provide information and guidance to any community in King County that is interested in becoming more age-friendly. The agency staffs a community-based Age-Friendly Communities Task Force that meets monthly. Please use the Contact Form to request information.

The City of Seattle joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities in July 2016 and strengthened their commitment in March 2017 with a Mayor/Council resolution and set of early actions. Follow their progress at

Following is a sample of recent articles about age-friendly communities in AgeWise King County, a monthly e-zine published by the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services:

The following sections outline—by domain—local efforts and opportunities for communities in Seattle-King County to become more livable for both older residents and people of all ages.

Outdoor spaces and buildings
An age-friendly community promotes safe and accessible places to gather, indoors and out.

Universal Design is a concept for designing all aspects of the built environment—homes, mobility routes, landscapes, commercial developments, products and life space, including equipment and architecture—with the goal of making them accessible to every person, regardless of age or ability.

Aging and Disability Services is working with our Advisory Council, other local and national organizations, and community members to promote the use of Universal Design. Our hope is that Universal Design will become commonplace in all aspects of the built environment—enabling all to remain in the place they call home, even if their abilities change.


  • UDC-logo-webNorthwest Universal Design Council (NWUDC)
    NWUDC serves as a forum to educate and collaborate in an effort to promote universal design and create “environments for all.” The council offers periodic forums on Universal Design issues. The NWUDC website includes resources, guidelines, and relevant research on Universal Design (UD), and maintains a listserv, or electronic mailing list, for sharing information on UD related news and events.

  • Universal Design: Increasing Livability
    An educational documentary addressing the meaning of “Universal Design” in single family home construction. In partnership with Seattle Pacific University. Copies of the film are available for purchase by calling (206) 417-2227.
  • “Universally Designed House Built in Tukwila”
    Article by Sandra Hartje, Associate Professor at Seattle Pacific University, featured in the September 2005 issue of Housing Washington.
  • Neighborhood Quality of Life Study for Seniors (NQLS)
    A research project funded by the National Institutes of Health to examine the relation between one’s neighborhood, quality of life, health, and physical activity. This study is unique because of collaboration between two different areas of research: health behavior and transportation/urban planning.
  • Adaptive Environments/Institute for Human Centered Design Information on Universal Design, education and training, publications, design examples.
  • The Center for Universal Design
    Information for designers, researchers, and consumers. Content includes the seven principles of universal design, educational materials, resources, design ideas, and other information.
  • Concrete Change
    Description of “visitability” design and effort to make all homes visitable. Links to additional resources and information.
  • Practical Guide to Universal Home Design
  • Aging in Place Video
    Learn about simple modifications that can improve the usability of a home for all members of the household. Created by the Kirkland Senior Council and ADS Advisory Council members.

The King County Mobility Coalition produced this guide to accessible travel options in Seattle and King County—public, private, and nonprofit. Click on the image to open a PDF copy . To request a printed copy of the Getting Around King County map, e-mail Updated Summer 2016.

An age-friendly community promotes safe and accessible transportation options for all people, including those that provide community mobility for people with special needs.

Aging and Disability Services (ADS) collaborates with transportation and other community-based service providers to develop a coordinated transportation system in King County. Our vision is to provide mobility for the entire community: children, youth, older adults, individuals with disabilities, residents with language barriers, and those with low-income status.

ADS is represented on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Special Needs Transportation Committee. Partners include the Puget Sound Regional Council; Washington State Department of Transportation; King, Pierce, and Snohomish county transit agencies; and local human services providers.

ADS is also active in the King County Mobility Coalition, which facilitates the coordination of King County special needs transportation to better serve the community. The Coalition’s website includes committee roster, meeting schedules, minutes and agendas.

Tips for Getting Around King County, the King County Mobility Coalition’s Community Travel Video Series, can help you learn to ride the bus, pay for the bus and light rail, and use other ways to travel. It’s available in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Cantonese, English, Korean, Mandarin, Nepali, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese, along with storyboards that you can print out to share. Visit the King County Mobility Coalition and click on the language you want and then on each of three videos. Links are also available on this website (click here).



An age-friendly community promotes accessible and affordable housing for people of all ages and abilities.

seniorhousingstudycoverThe report to the community on the future need for affordable senior housing, A Quiet Crisis: Age Wave Maxes Out Affordable Housing, is the result of a year long collaboration among six agencies* in King County. Among the report’s findings:

  • By 2025, the number of seniors in King County will double, representing 23 percent of King County’s total population. The number of seniors living in poverty will more than double.
  • Currently, the need for affordable housing greatly surpasses the supply. An additional 936 subsidized units will need to be created each year until 2025 just to maintain the current ratio of affordable housing to poor seniors.
  • The future needs of seniors will differ in some respects from today’s seniors. The baby boom generation is less likely than prior generations to derive its retirement income from secure lifetime sources such as pensions or annuities. Seniors are expected to live longer and spend more years with limited mobility and supportive services needs.
  • Working together, local governments, non-profit agencies and housing authorities can lead community-wide efforts to avert the crisis. New strategies are needed to help seniors prepare to succeed in retirement including: healthy aging initiatives, financial literacy training, incorporation of universal design features in new construction and remodeling projects to make it easier for residents to remain in their homes as they age. Other approaches include making strategic investments of public funding to expand the supply of affordable housing for seniors, making policy changes that create a wider range of choices for low-income seniors who must rely on subsidized housing and state-sponsored health care, and encouraging the creation of new types of supportive housing.

Strong partnerships have been forged and furthered by work on this report to map and meet the increasing demand for quality senior care in quality public and private homes in King County through 2025. The agencies responsible for A Quiet Crisis: Age Wave Maxes Out Affordable Housing are:

Get free, confidential housing information and referrals to local benefits via the professional advocates at Community Living Connections.


For 24/7 online access to benefits information, visit any of the following National Council on Aging programs:

Social participation

An age-friendly community encourages accessible and affordable social and recreation options for all ages.

Lifelong learning


Following are a variety of promising lifelong learning opportunities for older residents of Seattle and King County.


  • Northwest Center for Creative Aging: Presents programs to help adults to find new meaning in their lives as they age, delivered in senior communities, libraries and other venues throughout the Seattle region.
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute-UW: Workshops and special events for adults over 50 led by retired UW faculty and community experts. Classes taught in multiple locations.
  • Seattle Lifelong Recreation Program: Arts, fitness and social opportunities for people age 50+ sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation and offered at multiple community centers.
  • South Seattle College: Continuing education classes related to the arts, food and wine, personal enrichment, computers, professional continuing education, and online courses.

The arts and healthy aging

art_Central Group

Senior Centers Provide a Bevy of Art Opportunities (AgeWise King County, January 2015) features the art group at The Central senior center, and many more.

Following are a variety of promising participatory arts and arts appreciation opportunities for older residents of Seattle and King County.



  • Dance for PD: Classes are based on the Dance for PD (Parkinson’s Disease) program developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and Brooklyn Parkinson Group. They include certified instructors and live music. Sponsored by Seattle Theatre Group, Spectrum Dance Theatre, Evergreen Health, Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, City of Seattle Lifelong Recreation and Des Moines Legacy Foundation. For schedule information, visit Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation.
  • Keeping on Dancing: Modern for 40+ (Creative Dance Center, North Seattle): Includes BrainDance, floor & center work, technique, movement combinations, folk dances, improvisation, and choreography. Fun and Fitness for your fourth
  • World Dance Party: World Dance Party grew out of an Aging Your Way gathering. It’s designed to get neighbors to interact and to celebrate culture and diversity. Everyone from all backgrounds and ages is welcome.


  • Film Series: Positive Images Of Aging: Film and discussion group, 1st Fridays, 1 p.m. Laugh and interact with others while enjoying entertainment, interesting discussions and tasty snacks. Facilitated by Ruth McCormick.

Museum Programs

  • here-now-frye-museumhere:now (Frye Art Museum): Arts-engagement program for individuals living with dementia—and their care partners—to enjoy a creative and relaxing afternoon together. [Photo courtesy of Frye Museum—see AgeWise King County, April 2012.]
  • Seattle Art Museum Downtown: Free days plus senior discount.
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum: Free days plus senior discount.


  • Seattle Festival Orchestra: Multi-generational orchestra. Formerly called the Musicians Emeritus Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman helped to found this orchestra in the 1970s.

Visual Arts

  • Elderwise Outreach Program: Elderwise takes elements of its visual arts program to other facilities serving elders.
  • Path with Art: Nonprofit dedicated to providing adults recovering from homelessness and those “on the margins” the opportunity to engage in the creative process as a unique means to improve and rebuild their lives.
  • Seniors Creating Art: Offers art classes in different mediums, taught by professional art instructors to participants in community centers, senior centers, and other facilities that wish to host an eight-week long art program.



Respect and social inclusion

An age-friendly community promotes respect, inclusion, and cooperation among people of all ages and abilities. Aging and Disability Services works to reduce ageism and ableism through online communications such as:

Please visit our Disability Etiquette & Communications webpage for tips on communicating with and about people with disabilities.

Civic participation and employment

An age-friendly community encourages economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for meaningful work—paid and volunteer.


Following are a variety of promising civic and social engagement opportunities for older residents of Seattle and King County.

Referrals and Coordination

Volunteer Programs Supporting Older Adults & Individuals with Disabilities

Boards and Commissions

Every city and town in King County has a variety of boards and commissions whose members are appointed. Following are links to boards and commissions information within a variety of jurisdictions: King County | Auburn | Bellevue | Bothell | Burien | Des Moines | Enumclaw | Federal Way | Issaquah | Kenmore | Kent | Kirkland | Maple Valley | Mercer Island | Redmond | Renton | Sammamish | SeaTac | Seattle | Shoreline

Note: To recommend a volunteer program for older adults, e-mail information (including an online link) to ADS planner Irene Stewart.


If you or someone you know is age 55 or older, visit the following links for information about job search supports and services:


Can you afford to grow old?

Aging and Disability Services (ADS) promotes financial empowerment and economic self-sufficiency for King County residents of all ages.

In 2011, ADS participated in development of the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Washington (“Elder Index”), which measured the income that Washington’s seniors needed to maintain independence and meet basic living expenses.

The Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging (UMass Boston Gerontology Institute) has since published Living Below the Line: Economic Insecurity and Older Americans Insecurity in the States 2016, which summarizes what the Elder Index looks like across the states. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, UMass Boston, and National Council on Aging also provide an online tool for searching the current Elder Index.

elder-indexThe total monthly Elder Index is the cost to live a reasonable quality of life in a specific geographic area without having to choose between necessary expenditures. Put simply, it details how much income an older adult needs for self-sufficiency in Seattle and King County.

Social Security is the sole source of income for one in five retired older adults in Washington, the majority of whom are women. In 2009, about eight percent of the state’s older adults lived at or below the federal poverty level, and another 17 percent were at or below 150 percent of the poverty threshold. Many older adults who are not poor as defined by the official poverty level are still unable to meet their basic needs.

Younger residents who do not yet collect Social Security will benefit from using The Self Sufficiency Calculator for Washington State to determine earnings needed to meet expenses in a specific geographic area.

Communication and information

An age-friendly community encourages access resources, benefits, and services for all ages and abilities. Resources include:

Community and health services

An age-friendly community promotes community and health services that support healthy aging. For information about Aging and Disability Services’ work in this area, visit the following pages on this website:

Click on the headings above for more information. For free, confidential access to aging network services in Seattle-King County, contact Community Living Connections.