More than 70 advocates for older adults gathered last week at Ravensworth Baptist Church as part of the 50+ Action Plan Community Forum series authorized by the Board of Supervisors and staffed by the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. The purpose of the multiple forums across the county this summer is to share ideas about how, together, we can create a more liveable community for older residents.
The previous 50+ Action Plan was developed in 2007 by the Board’s Aging Committee, now called the 50+ Committee. That plan recognized the anticipated enormous growth in the population of older residents, and identified strengths, challenges, and actions that could be taken to ensure that our communities are livable for all – a lifelong community. By 2030, the number of county residents over 50 is estimated to be nearly 400,000 people. Of those, more than 100,000 would be over 70 years old. Clearly, increasing capacity to serve a growing demand for senior activities and services is important.
Following an overview of current programs and the role of the Area Agency on Aging, federally mandated by the Older Americans Act, the 50+ Forum focused on five breakout topics: housing, transportation, community engagement, safe and healthy communities, and services. Time was allotted so that each attendee could participate in two different sessions. I sat in on a couple of sessions, and heard some very interesting suggestions. In the transportation session, one participant wanted to volunteer as a driver – I am sure someone signed him up immediately! Another participant was frustrated that bus service is not convenient for her to run regular errands. Buses run frequently for commuters, but mid-day service is scarce. Finding trustworthy and timely taxi or car services also was mentioned as a concern. Housing issues included the challenge of aging in place in a bi-level or split level home. A former colleague once called that a “Peter Pan house” – bought with no thought of growing up (or old!). Universal design for new homes often was mentioned, not as an option but a requirement.
A popular topic for discussion was the county’s Web site for older adults, which has been redesigned for easier use: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/olderadults. The Web site includes information about county services, recreation and wellness, community involvement, and connecting with additional information. E-newsletters and the monthly Golden Gazette newspaper also are available on-line. Comments about creating a more older-adult friendly community may be submitted to DFSCommunity@fairfaxcounty.gov, or calling 703-324-5411, TTY 711. The Aging, Disability, and Caregiver Resource line is 703-324-7948, a handy number for all of your questions about older adults.
Demographics indicate that older adults have a greater need for ambulance services. Help the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department (BXVFD) raise funds for a paramedic ambulance by dining at Dogfish Head Alehouse this Tuesday, July 23, between 11:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., and participating in silent auctions for BXVFD at the same time. Donations for the ambulance also may be sent to BXVFD, P. O. Box 1159, Falls Church, VA 22041. More information is available at www.bxvfd.org.