Spring is in the air, and we’ve got some refreshing news about the aging network to share!
I hope you’ve noticed the exciting work underway to make Seattle, designated as an aspiring age-friendly city in the summer of 2016, a great place to grow up and grow old. Aging and Disability Services hosts the Age Friendly Seattle team, which is working across city departments and with the community to assess, plan, and implement new strategies that recognize the wisdom and experience of older adults, the value of social and civic participation, and the need for social and built environments that support aging in the home and community.
I invite you to participate in the following age-friendly activities:
- Age Friendly City: Care. Community. Vision. For All.: Attend the Pecha Kucha Night at Seattle Public Library on Thursday, April 5. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the Pecha Kucha program starts at 6 p.m. What’s Pecha Kucha? Each presenter has exactly 20 slides that appear for exactly 20 seconds, and their presentation ends at exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. How’s that for timing? Better yet, you’ll hear both national and local speakers. The lineup is very interesting (click here). Hosted by AARP, AIA Seattle, The Frye Art Museum, and Age Friendly Seattle, the event is free.
- Innovation Fund Community Celebration: The Seattle Human Services Department is hosting a celebration on Friday, April 13 (5–8 p.m.), at the Northwest African American Museum for 12 community-based organizations that won Innovation Fund awards in 2017. Seven of 12 awards went to community projects that promote healthy aging. See “Celebrating Human Services Innovation and Healthy Aging” in this issue for more information, including the RSVP link.
- Engage at Every Age: Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw is hosting an Older Americans Month event at Mirabella Seattle on Friday, May 4 (1–3 p.m.) that will feature Age Friendly Seattle, Seattle Parks and Recreation programs for people age 50+, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ new Community Resource Hub, the Market to MOHAI project, and the difference that older adults make through social and civic engagement. See the save-the-date flyer and RSVP link.
Visit the Age Friendly Seattle web site and event pages for more ways to get involved. You’ll also find these opportunities and more on our countywide event calendar, which you can see by clicking on View Current Calendar at right.
Celebrating Public Health Week
In the past two years, the working relationship among Aging and Disability Services, Seattle Human Services Department, and Public Health—Seattle & King County has become quite strong. Since April 2–8, 2018 is National Public Health Week, we asked our friends at Public Health to write an article for this month’s issue of AgeWise (see link at right). Please take time to learn about the ways they protect our health and well-being—from water and air quality and food safety to systemic responses to disease outbreak and education about lifestyle choices that promote good health and can affect chronic conditions. In addition, the agencies collaborate through a regional partnership called Accountable Communities of Health and implementation of the Medicaid Transformation Waiver in King County. We look forward to our ongoing partnership.
Looking forward to Older Americans Month
Next month’s issue of AgeWise King County will focus on several Older Americans Month topics. Did you know that this is an annual celebration in May? And did you know that the Administration on Aging sets an annual theme and provides logos, posters, activity ideas, and more on their Older Americans Month website? Share this resource with your senior center, service provider, or community organization. Let’s make it clear to all that older adults are engaged, active, and vital members of our communities!
Federal and state legislation
Aging issues and programs were well represented in this year’s state legislative session and federal budget allocations. I am delighted to share that the 2018 Washington State Legislative session, which ended on March 9, resulted in several budget and policy wins for the aging network. These include:
- Medicaid will cover hearing aids for 6,300 adults, restoring a benefit that was cut during the recession.
- Revenue from the Housing Trust Fund and document recording fees will help our state increase the supply of affordable housing and respond to the homeless crisis.
- Eligible low- and moderate-income older adults, veterans, and people with disabilities will be exempt from new local property tax levies, and renters with housing assistance vouchers and fixed incomes such as Social Security and VA will be ensured fair access to rental housing.
- Our state’s #1 long-term care system will be strengthened by changes to respite training requirements that make it easier for family members to provide care for their loved ones; funding to support the Dementia Action Collaborative; sustainable rates for health homes; and system changes that will decrease the administrative burden on Area Agency on Aging case managers, enabling them to focus on providing high quality care for their clients.
- Our state took a big step in developing solutions to address the high cost of long-term care. While the Long-Term Care Trust Act did not pass this session, the budget includes funding that directs the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging (W4A) to lead a coalition of stakeholders to work on an improved bill for the 2019 session.
- Finally, on March 23, the President signed the 2018 federal appropriations bill, which provided significant funding boosts for Older Americans Act and other aging programs—the first such increases since 2010. This budget, which covers the last six months of the fiscal year, rejected many of the cuts initially proposed by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Administration.
Thanks to all of you for paying attention and making your voices heard on these important issues. I encourage you to reach out to your state and federal legislators to thank them for their hard work and support for older adults and people with disabilities.
Contributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
Following are some of the events that ADS Advisory Council members will participate in this month:
- ADS Advisory Council Meeting (Friday, April 13, 12–2 p.m., Seattle Municipal Tower 4050/60)
- Age Friendly Seattle Coffee Hour (Thursday, April 19, 10–11 a.m., Central Building)
- Our Lives, Our Choices: End-of-Life Planning (Thursday, April 19, 10–11:30 a.m., Central Area Senior Center)
- Mayor’s Council on African American Elders (Friday, April 20, 2–3:30 p.m., Seattle Municipal Tower 4090)
The Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meets monthly, except January and October, and holds periodic forums. Open to the public, agendas are available within a week of the meeting. For more information or to request an accommodation, contact Gigi Meinig at email@example.com or 206-684-0652.