SACRAMENTO — There's a new effort to try and make Sacramento County a longer-living community.
California has awarded the county a $1.7 million grant to create the first "blue zones" in the state.
"It's looking at how environments and cultures shape individual experiences," said Danny Buettner, Jr., the project's chief development officer.
County officials are hoping the effort will increase life expectancy through healthy habits. So how can the blue zone benefit the community?
"We're going to be looking at how are our streets situated, healthy foods in grocery stores, accessibility with transportation, parks and outdoor living spaces," said Tim Lutz, the director of Sacramento County Health Services.
One key focus will be on Sacramento's aging population and the growing number of Alzheimer's disease cases, which have increased 200% in just a decade.
Fred Stevenson has a very specific interest in fighting the disease.
"I have a strong Alzheimer's disease gene in my family history," he said.
He's trying to get his place of worship, Midtown Church, to become one of the first blue zone-certified places in Sacramento.
"My hope is we'll be able to reach more people, get more education out," Stevenson said.
The goal is to offer a safe place for seniors to interact and prevent isolation.
"Get that social stimulation that so many are missing...it just makes a huge impact," Lutz said.
Blue zone experts are now working with local businesses, neighborhood groups, and the county to launch the program next spring.
"There's a lot of things that we can work on," said Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the county public health officer. "There's policy, there's environmental changes that will translate into saving lives."
Del Paso Heights, Meadowview, Arden-Arcade and six other neighborhoods have been chosen to receive the first blue zones in Sacramento County.
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