15 years from now, the age demographic in San Diego will look very different. By 2030, the number of people 65 and over in San Diego County is expected to double to more than 720,000.

This creates new challenges and opportunities San Diego must prepare for.

Fortunately, work has already started and momentum is growing across a variety of sectors to make San Diego a more age-friendly region.

Support for San Diego’s Older Adults

For the past several years, San Diego has been transforming itself into a region where residents of all ages have greater opportunities to be healthy, safe and thriving. The County of San Diego and City of Chula Vista joined the Age-Friendly Community networks through AARP and the World Health Organization.

Philanthropists recognize the importance of investing in sustainable, lasting work in this area. And nonprofits across the region have established and expanded programs that support San Diego’s older adults.

Through this collaborative action and San Diego’s cross-sector partnerships, the region is becoming more age friendly. And the efforts are growing stronger.

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In February, The San Diego Foundation Age Friendly Communities Program announced $225,854 in grants to local nonprofits that will help enhance the quality of life for older adults and create communities where older adults can age in place, live affordably, and be fully included and engaged in all aspects of daily life.

Each organization’s program, and their respective partners, offer a unique opportunity for San Diego’s aging population.

Age Friendly Communities & Civic Engagement

For example, Serving Seniors identified a gap in a key area of civic life – leadership – and are now working to bridge that with an innovative program.

Traditionally, there has been a lack of opportunity for older adults and lower income populations to be involved in civic engagement and leadership development programs. Seniors living in poverty often don’t engage in public policy or community activism, yet are directly affected by it.

Transportation, nutrition program funding and affordable housing are all issues critically important to the fixed-income senior community.

The Serving Seniors Senior Leadership Development Institute will provide older adults in San Diego with a toolkit of resources to better understand the issues that impact their community and the skills needed to take action.

As Chief Administrative Officer at Serving Seniors Melinda Forstey explains, “Our goal is to empower hundreds of San Diego seniors with the knowledge and confidence to become advocates in their communities and to foster a better understanding of local, state and national legislation issues.”

[pullquote]Our goal is to empower hundreds of San Diego seniors with the knowledge and confidence to become advocates in their communities.”
– Melinda Forstey, Serving Seniors[/pullquote]

By providing seniors with opportunities to volunteer and participate in activities, such as joining a city council meeting or attending a public speaking workshop, Serving Seniors is building confidence among older adults so they can be strong advocates for themselves and their peers, and become more involved within their community.

The organization will host 12 workshops throughout San Diego County that focus on leadership skills and will also create a special website page to make tools and teachings widely available.

Forstey described the long term impact of the program, highlighting that “as catalysts for change, we’re confident that our advocacy efforts will raise the awareness of critical issues among legislators, service providers and the general public leading to increased support for programs which ensure that a greater number of seniors receive quality, uniformly-defined supportive services.”

Serving Seniors and the 2017 grantees are creating lasting impact by providing San Diego with the tools and opportunities to become a truly age friendly region.

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