The Age-Friendly Communities Program addresses the needs of older adults — transportation, housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, community support and health services, respect and social inclusion, communication and information, and civic participation and employment — by promoting systems-level change in partnership with local governments, experts on aging and community advocates.
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, between 2003 and 2013 the population age 60 and over increased 30.7 percent from about 48 million to almost 63 million. In San Diego County, the number of people 65 and over is expected to double by 2030.
The San Diego Foundation created the Age-Friendly Communities Program to address the region’s shifting demography and build communities where adults can age in place, stay connected to their communities, and remain independent and meaningfully engaged throughout their later years.
In close partnership with AARP, the World Health Organization’s national affiliate, the Age-Friendly Communities Program works directly with stakeholders and local governments to promote programs and systems-level changes that create more livable environments for residents of all ages and abilities. Employing the World Health Organization’s framework for Age-friendly Cities, the Age-friendly Communities program recognizes that sustained change is most effective when values are embedded in regional, state and federal policies.
The San Diego Foundation is committed to growing the adoption of age-friendly action plans by local municipalities throughout the region. Through support provided by The San Diego Foundation and the Del Mar Healthcare Fund, the Age-Friendly Communities Program has facilitated the membership of the County of San Diego and the cities of Chula Vista, La Mesa and San Diego to the World Health Organization’s Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities.
The County of San Diego formalized its commitment to age-friendly principles through the adoption of the Age Well San Diego age- and dementia-friendly action plan in May 2018. The City of Chula Vista has showcased its vision and long-term commitment as an Age-Friendly City with its the community-informed Healthy Chula Vista Age-friendly Action Plan. Additionally, the cities of La Mesa and San Diego will begin pursuing an Age-Friendly City action plan this year.
The Foundation also seeks to understand the challenges of older adults, hosting The Future of Age-Friendly Communities event series with UC San Diego.
By exploring common challenges and solutions across the eight domains of livability by AARP – transportation, housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, community support and health services, respect and social inclusion, communication and information, and civic participation and employment – we are improving the quality of life in San Diego by creating accessible, equitable and inclusive communities for all residents.
To date, The San Diego Foundation has provided more than $1.9 million in strategic nonprofit grants to improve the lives of older adults, and partnered with several nonprofit organizations and agencies that support Age-Friendly Community efforts, including: San Diego County Aging & Independent Services; AARP; ElderHelp; Neighborhood House Association; Jewish Family Services; Southern CA Caregivers Association; Glenner Services; St. Paul’s Senior Services; OASIS; SANDAG; Seniors Serving Seniors; The Center – LGBT; Tierrasanta Village; Alzheimer’s Association; San Diego State University, and UC San Diego.
Age-Friendly Communities in Action
Through a project with Jewish Family Services, we are connecting older adults in designated “transportation poor” areas with a call center that provides access to modern rideshare services. This means they are less likely to miss medical appointments and are able to independently engage with the community.
Through a project with Serving Seniors, older adults are empowered to lend their voices to policy-related issues that impact their lives. To date, the project has meaningfully engaged over 1,000 low-income older adults in leadership training and public-benefits related policy campaigns.
Through a project with Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, we are supporting an intergenerational, nutrition-based program that helps grandparents and older adults in these communities create healthy versions of the culturally significant foods they love, while sharing these practices with other communities facing similar challenges.
Through a research initiative with Consumer Advocates for RCFE Reform, a critical analysis of the San Diego region’s assisted living facilities will be conducted. This research initiative will provide data needed to inform priorities and help determine sustainable solutions to improving access and affordability to older adults.