Election Day Approaches!

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From AAI Program Director Linda M. Jackson:

This is the month to get ready to vote! There are numberless reasons to do so, beginning with the need to have leaders who will protect the planet’s natural resources that give us life. We also know that last year’s tax cuts will mean budget cuts next year, very likely in fields that are critical in our work of supporting older adults.

What’s at stake is the long-term viability of social security and Medicare, access to health care and affordable prescription drugs, security of pensions, and help for caregivers. We need elected officials who are willing to ask questions, seek solutions, and work together to find the path forward.

Beyond determining budgets and policy, our government officials set the tone for public discourse. September’s events caused many of us to stop in our tracks. Many women, including myself, had the unwanted reminder of moments when we were alone, startled, and attacked. While older women are particularly bolstered by the voices of younger women in the #metoo movement, they may not have access to tools to help them process trauma. Think of Marin’s older women living alone, haunted by these resurrected memories. Often, resources for victims are geared toward younger women, and may use images or language that alienate older clients.

Luckily, you in your work are in a place to help older women understand that assault — whether it took place last month or 50 years ago — was not their fault. How can we help? By being present and listening. Telling a story is healing. If a person wants to talk with a professional, they can call the RAINN sexual assault hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life also has resources for victims, professionals, and advocates.

The Aging Action Initiative speaks up to ensure that all the people we work with have the support needed for a healthy, safe, and engaging quality of life. I witnessed the power of showing up and speaking up in the realm of housing just this last month. After a roomful of speakers asked the San Rafael City Council to deny an appeal of their Planning Commission’s approval of assisted living, the councilmembers voted unanimously for the new housing. And after receiving a stack of letters and hearing from half a dozen speakers, the Ross Valley Sanitary District unanimously approved a fee reduction for the affordable senior rental housing Victory Village in Fairfax.

You have a voice. Mail in your ballot or go to the polls on November 6. Call your family and friends in other states and wish them a successful vote day. Vote as if the health of your next year depends on it.

Looking for information on the propositions and elections?

  • The California Alliance for Retired Americans recommends voting yes on Proposition 1 and Proposition  2 for affordable housing.
  • The League of Women Voters is a resource about the process of voting and the propositions and candidates. The Marin LWV recommends voting yes on Measure AA for local transportation funding.

Double check that you’re registered in Marin by visiting www.marincounty.org/depts/rv/voter-registration/register/am-i-registered or calling (415) 499-6456 before October 22.

~Linda

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A Flash of Lightning

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This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds.
To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking
at the movements of a dance.
A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky,
Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain.
-The Buddha
from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche

At the 2018 A.A.I. Convening, Steering Committee member Teri Dowling shared her reflections on these words from Buddha, as part of the “Listening In” at the beginning of the day.
A Flash of Lightning

This year in August, I’ll be 73 years old.

I’m going to retire on June 30 after 44 years of employment with the City and County of San Francisco. This is a happy retirement. I love my job and the people I work with. It feels like a gift to leave this phase of my life on a high note. Looking back, I’m aware of how quickly the time has gone by — like that flash of lightning in the sky. I honestly have few regrets in life and feel so grateful for the many experiences in my past that got me to this place. Last week when I met with the retirement office, I learned that because I have worked for so long, my retirement is calculated based on how much I’ve put into the retirement system and actuarial data — how long I’m expected to live. I looked up the actuarial life data published by Social Security, which says I will live an average of 14.34 years more! A strong reminder that life is much shorter moving forward into this next chapter of life.

I really welcome this next chapter of my life. Right now, my husband Mal and I are in relatively good health and I want to spend more time with him and our family and to be more spontaneous — go to Carmel on a Tuesday for lunch, watch a movie at the theater in the middle of the day, drive to Portland on a whim, fly to Rome to drink coffee at a local cafe. And, as I have always done, I want to try new things, make new friends and stay actively involved in my community. I feel very much alive with energy to spare.

I’m also aware that life is finite. In my 50s I had Stage 2 breast cancer and had to come face to face with my own mortality. The fear of death I felt at that time has faded, but the experience helped me put death in perspective. Now in my 70s, my parents are no longer alive, a few of my friends have serious health issues including memory loss, and a few have died. I know that sickness and death will happen to me and the ones I love, but I honestly don’t think about it often. I think about now and the future, the years I have left, to live my life fully for as long as I am able.

Yes, time seems to speed up now that there is less ahead. Even these last few months at work have been speeding by faster than I ever thought possible. I’m now, at 73 years of age, facing the future with optimism and an openness to new adventures, love, joy, gratitude, the inevitable sadness of loss, and, hopefully, acceptance.

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AAI SPOTLIGHT: Age-Friendly Novato

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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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