AAI SPOTLIGHT: Age-Friendly Novato


AAI interviewed member Michael Hagerty, Ph.D., Professor emeritus at UC Davis and chair of Age-Friendly Novato. He talks about the Age-Friendly movement, the importance of collaboration, and how to achieve an Age-Friendly Marin.

Novato Age Friendly
Novato Age Friendlies with County Supervisor Judy Arnold. From left to right: Michael Hagerty, Judy Arnold, Gloria Dunn-Violin, Beth Livoti, Carol Ann Moore, Marianne York. Not shown: Jean Gunn.

Novato-AF-Logo-1What is the Age-Friendly Novato? How you are involved?
Age-Friendly Novato is part of a network of communities recognized for best practices in providing for the safety, health, and independence of all citizens of all ages. The Age-Friendly best practices are sponsored by the World Health Organization and by AARP in the US.

Age-Friendly planning often focuses on older citizens because of the many challenges and disabilities they have in later life, but we find that the same accommodations can benefit other citizens. For example, curb cuts that help an older citizen in a wheelchair will help a mother with a stroller just as much.

I began working for Age-Friendly Novato a year ago, and have recently chaired the task force.

How did you get into this kind of work?
For many years, I taught psychology at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, specializing in Quality of m-hagerty-headshotLife analysis. I wrote Assessing Quality of Life and Living Conditions to Guide National Policy (2002) with Joachim Vogel and Valerie Møller, about best “quality of life” assessment practices, focusing on European programs and successes. When I decided to retire, I found a wonderful senior community in Novato. As I have gotten to know my neighbors, I started to realize how health and economic issues affected their quality of life. We even lost some long-time residents due to financial and dementia problems. It was hard to see that.

When I first heard about the Age-Friendly movement from former City Councilmember Madeline Kellner, I knew it was something I wanted to bring to Novato. Marianne York, who now serves on the Marin Commission on Aging, recruited Jean Gunn, Beth Livoti, Carol Ann Moore and me to be part of Novato’s Age-Friendly Task Force, and I took over as chair when Madeline joined the Peace Corps. We are now excited that AARP will award Novato their Age-Friendly status at a City Council meeting this month!

What are the benefits of an Age-Friendly Plan?
First, although an Age-Friendly Plan is oriented to improving quality of life for seniors, it is really for all ages. All Age-Friendly plans follow the same basic framework and process developed by the World Health Organization, and implemented in California by AARP.

AgeFriendly8DomainsAs you can see in the graphic, an Age-Friendly plan looks into eight domains, or topics, with policy and program recommendations for a community. It all starts with an assessment. In Novato, I repurposed the County’s recent survey for its Aging Area Plan 2016-202 “Live Long Live Well.” I looked at the responses from around 500 Novato seniors. Task Force member Carol Ann and I also surveyed social workers in Novato to verify the County’s survey. Of the eight domains, there are two top issues for Novato’s seniors: housing and transportation.

The Age-Friendly planning process integrates our local efforts to address all the issues facing seniors. For example, the City of Novato does not manage transit or health programs, but we know that we need to advocate for better transportation and nutrition for seniors – we now have a planning framework for that advocacy.

What are some innovations we can look forward to regarding age-friendly environments?
I’m excited about self-driving cars! These will be a boon for seniors – they’ll be able to go out at night, and not worry about safety with door-to-door rides. I think we’ll start seeing these in five years. Another innovation are accessory dwelling units. Rachel Ginnis of Lilypad is Marin’s primary resource about building and financing accessory, and junior accessory dwelling units. This approach can help seniors stay in their homes, either in the little unit or in the main house. The Marin Housing Authority has a great program to help low-income homeowners keep their homes in repair.

Tell us about your involvement with Aging Action Initiative (AAI):
I first heard of AAI when Shelley Hamilton (CEO of MARINSPACE, the AAI support team) came to the Age-Friendly meetings to let us know about the startup of the Aging Action Initiative. I participated in the AAI Convening this past March and helped with action planning for AAI 2.0.


How does collaboration help the Age-Friendly Novato do its work? Specifically, the relationships and partnerships in or out of the AAI network.
In Novato, we work with the Margaret Todd Senior Center, Episcopal Senior Services, and Novato Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Services.

Networks are hugely important to us. We have different silos of people trying to help seniors, but they aren’t very coordinated. A very valuable resource is the Marin County Aging and Adult Services Information and Assistance Line 415-457-INFO. This is the one of the best doors to resources in Marin.

Novato has the fourth and most recent Age-Friendly Assessment in Marin. Last March, Novato’s City Council committed to continuous improvement of Age-Friendly services.

In 2013, Sausalito was the first city in the Bay Area to join the network of Age-Friendly communities. Fairfax and Corte Madera have now also finished their plans, and San Rafael and the County of Marin are about to join the network.

We have benefitted so much from the advice of the countywide Age-Friendly community. It’s a great support group! Representatives from Marin Age Friendlies meet at 9:15am the first Thursday of the month—before the Commission on Aging meetings. Anyone interested in pursuing an Age-Friendly plan in their community is welcome to join this support group. There is also a Bay Area network starting up.

The Fairfax Age-Friendly community was instrumental in facilitating the approval of affordable senior housing, and in Novato, we have spoken in favor of senior housing proposed in Marin. This advocacy is needed to help address the need for more senior housing in Marin.

biking-in-novatoThe Aging Action Initiative gives me hope that we can integrate all the senior services across the county.

What is your vision of an Age-Friendly Marin?
My vision is of a Marin that ensures the safety, health and independence of all citizens.

Aging Action Initiative (AAI) is a collective effort of over 65 different agencies, grassroots organizations, commission and neighborhood groups, funded by the County of Marin and coordinated by MARINSPACE, collaborating for an age-friendly environment. For more information visit agingactioninitiative.org or connect with us on Facebook.

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AAI SPOTLIGHT: Commission on Aging


AAI interviewed member Teri Dowling, Chair, Commission on Aging (back row, third from the left). She talks about the Commission’s role, goals and impact; the importance of collaboration, and how to achieve an age-friendly Marin.


What is the Commission on Aging (COA)? How you are involved?

The Marin Commission on Aging is a federally mandated advisory council to provide advice and assistance to the Marin County Board of Supervisors, working closely and in partnership with the staff of the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services, Aging and Adult Services.

It is comprised of 23 persons representing Marin County’s towns, cities, districts and two representatives from the California Senior Legislature.

I was appointed by the Town of Ross to serve on the Commission.  I’ve served the past five years as Commissioner and for the last two years as the Chair.


How did you get into this kind of work?Teri Dowling

I’ve always been interested in older adults and aging issues. Starting with my grandmother.  She was a wonderful influence. During my years as a Peace Corps volunteer, I lived in the home of a kind and interesting older woman in Ghana. While in graduate school, I served on the Berkeley Commission on Aging and the Gray Panthers. I also managed the San Francisco Senior Information and Referral Line for many years. I still work for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

When the Town of Ross sent out a notice five years ago that there was an opening on the Marin Commission on Aging, I jumped at the chance to get more involved in aging issues in my own county…especially since I am now an older adult.


How does the COA work?

The COA provides information about attitudes, needs and opinions of older adults to the Board of Supervisors and the department of Aging and Adults Services that helps influence policy and planning on behalf of older adults in the county.

The Commissioners who serve on the Commission actively promote the needs of older adults in their communities.

The COA serves as a forum and a strong advocate for the needs of older adults in the county: testifying at town council meetings and at the State Legislature, writing letters of support, organizing and supporting Marin Villages and Age Friendly towns and cities, etc.

The COA provides and works with other organizations to provide information and education that is relevant and critical to the health and well-being of older adults: End of Life seminars, workshops on economic security, and hosting the annual Healthy Aging Symposium.


What are the benefits or successes of the COA?

Please note that both Commissioners and Aging and Adult Services staff worked together to create these successes:

  • Record and broadcast the program portion of the monthly Commission on Aging meeting for local government TV and on livelonglivewellmarin.org.
  • Established a senior representative on the Mental Health Services Act Advisory Board.
  • Conducted a successful county-wide older adults needs assessment in 2015/6 and Live Long Live Well media campaign.


seniorfair_102313_0006_med_medwideHow does the COA directly help our older adults?

We produce four publications a year of the Great Age Newsletter distributed widely through the county, conduct a series of workshop on End of Life issues, and collaborate with the Marin Women’s Commission to provide information to the public about economic security for older adults in Marin.


Tell us about the Live Long, Live Well: Marin County Area Plan for Aging. What are the goals and objectives?

aaa-plan-2016-2020Every four years the Commission and the staff of Aging and Adult Services conduct a county-wide needs assessment and develop an area plan that is approved by the Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  Each year, during four years, objectives are developed and approved to help meet the priority and goals of the four-year plan.

The goals for 2017-2020 are:

  • Enhance quality of life, safely, and security for older adults
  • Support and promote local efforts to create livable communities for all
  • Improve visibility and usability of information, services and resources
  • Encourage innovative approaches to policy and services though community collaboration and advocacy

The staff’s and commissioners’ influence on the Department of Health and Human Service’s 5-Year Strategic Plan will be critically important in order to address one or more of the five top concerns identified by Marin County’s older adults: dementia, end-of life planning, falls, financial security, and isolation and depression.

Following, tracking and advocating for local, state and federal legislation to support the needs of older adults is critical this year….as it is every year.

Expanding Age Friendly Communities county-wide, is also an important goal.

To read the Area Plan for Aging, click here.


Tell us about your involvement with Aging Action Initiative (AAI):

I heard about Aging Action Initiative through the Director of Aging and Adult Services and presentations made about the work of AAI at Commission meetings. My participation has been limited due to my current responsibilities as Chair for the Commission, but I am looking forward to getting more involved after July, when my term as Chair ends!


How does collaboration help the COA do its work? Specifically, the relationships and partnerships in or out of the AAI network.

The COA has many partnerships with groups and organization in Marin County.  Because there are 23 members, each Commissioner representing their own community and interests, the list is extensive.  There are also a number of committees and task forces of the Commission which include and encourage people representing other groups and organizations in their membership.

hhs-aging-fair-385x308The COA committees and task forces include Housing and Transportation, Health and Nutrition, Planning, Legislative, and Communications.

The strength of the AAI’s collaboration and partnerships will present opportunities we did not have previously. The opportunities for innovation and making a difference for member agencies are extensive. The more agencies in Marin collaborate, the greater the benefit to all older adults in this county.

With so many important and good things to accomplish, through the AAI network we can together join forces and achieve more together than we could every do while working separately.


What is your vision of an age-friendly Marin?

A county where the needs of older adults are integral and essential to the health and wellbeing their community; where neighbors of all ages are concerned and care about each other; where resources and services (housing, food, in-home care, transportation, etc.) are available and affordable to help all older adults live independently in their community for as long as possible.

Aging Action Initiative (AAI) is a collective effort of over 65 different agencies, grassroots organizations, commission and neighborhood groups, funded by the County of Marin and coordinated by MARINSPACE, collaborating for an age-friendly environment. For more information visit agingactioninitiative.org or connect with us on Facebook.

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Age Friendly Fairfax Submits Plan to WHO


May 1, 2017 | This April, the Age Friendly Fairfax Task Force submitted a five-year plan to the World Health Organization (WHO). The plan is the culmination of several years effort meet the challenge of growing older with dignity and in comfort in the Marin County Town of Fairfax.

In the summer of 2014, Fairfax volunteers and elected officials began discussing how the town might enhance services for older adults and improve their lives. Given that Marin County has the state’s fastest growing senior population, the group felt an imperative to move quickly to better accommodate the town’s beloved elders.

According to the American Community Survey, 24% of Fairfax residents were projected to be 60 years or older in 2015.

With the support and encouragement of both the Town Council and the Marin County Board of Supervisors’ Commission on Aging, the Town of Fairfax formed an Age-friendly Task Force and applied to the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities in December. It was granted admission into the global network in March 2015.

In 2015, the WHO granted age-friendly status to the Town of Fairfax, and it became the second Marin County municipality to join the network.

All network members share a commitment to promoting healthy and active aging and a good quality of life for older residents. The network aims to advance programs that foster healthy aging and the full participation of elders. It also provides a resource roadmap for cities and communities to become more supportive of older people.

The WHO network requires a commitment to participate in a five-year continuing cycle of community assessment, planning, improvement and evaluation of eight environmental and social domains of livability that contribute to active and healthy aging.

The five-year cycle begins with a two-year planning process, which the community can design itself. Typically, the process begins with an assessment of the community’s current and desired age friendliness, followed by strategic planning and an action plan.

The town is expected to implement the plan over the next three years, between 2017 and 2019, then will evaluate progress and submit a report to the WHO network.

The WHO requests communities examine eight areas during the assessment and planning process:
1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
2. Transportation
3. Housing
4. Social participation
5. Respect and social inclusion
6. Civic participation and employment
7. Communication and information
8. Community support and health services

To read the Age Friendly Fairfax Community Assessment 2015 – 2016 and Strategic Action Plan 2017 – 2019, click here.



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Senior Corps RSVP – Notice of Funding Opportunity


DEADLINE: April 4, 2017 | The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) seeks to increase the impact of national service in one or more counties across the country.

CNCS intends to fund RSVP grants that support volunteers age 55 years and older in activities that serve community needs and respond to the National Performance Measures in the following focus areas: disaster; education; economic opportunity; environment; healthy futures; and veterans and military families. In addition to addressing one or more of the Focus Areas above, which is a requirement, CNCS is particularly interested in supporting applications that propose to include one or more of the priorities listed below.

Elder Justice: Applicants focus on the Elder Justice Act priorities by placing volunteers in assignments that mitigate the potential that clients and caregivers served by RSVP volunteers will be victims of financial fraud, abuse, and/or neglect and/or that provide assistance and support services to victims of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Education—Intergenerational Programming: Applicants address ways to increase older adult engagement with young people in the areas of school readiness and K-12 success.

Access to Care—Opioid Abuse: Applicants address ways to increase access to care and participation in health education, including prevention activities, related to opioid abuse.

Aging in Place—Transportation: Applicants focus on the access to preventive/medical appointments or other services that allow them to live independently.

Economic Opportunity—Housing: Applicants contribute to the provision of services for individuals who are economically-disadvantaged, including individuals who are homeless, to transition into safe, healthy, affordable housing.

To learn more about this funding notice, including a list of funding opportunities by State, visit the CNCS website.

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Major Milestone for an Age-Friendly Marin


December 20, 2016 | As cities around the world and cities around the Bay Area are looking into ways to become more age-friendly, Sausalito has reached a major milestone in achieving it.

Sausalito has become the first city in Marin to approve an age-friendly action plan to assist seniors in the coming years. Using the World Health Organization’s Global Age-Friendly Cities Guide, the city’s Age-Friendly Task Force crafted a plan with the hope that some elements could be included in the general plan.


The task force began meeting in April 2013 and created a survey to determine how Sausalito would be accessible and inclusive for its older residents. Using the World Health Organization’s eight domains for an age-friendly city, the group came up with which domain areas on which to focus.

The Age-Friendly Sausalito Community Action Plan will be forwarded to the World Health Organization for approval and be considered by city officials as they develop city plans, including the general plan.

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