In my final month as chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, I reflect on the success of the past year. Our volunteer council held a planning retreat in January, met 10 times during the year; and participated in Senior Lobby Day in Olympia, the annual Washington State Council on Aging/Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging conference and Washington State Senior Lobby annual conference.
In addition, we co-sponsored Age Wave legislative candidate forums in Auburn and Bellevue. We also sponsored three issue forums—“Responding to the Needs of LGBT Elders” (February), “Becoming a Citizen Activist,” with former Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata (March), and “It Takes a Village to Age in Place” (July) with representatives of PNA Village, NEST, and Wider Horizons—and a listening session on “Your Age-Friendly Future” with Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez and 32nd District State Representative Cindy Ryu (August).
We have also produced 12 issues of AgeWise King County, which you are reading now. I encourage you to review the range of issues we have addressed. If you haven’t subscribed, please do that by clicking on the Subscribe button at the top of this page. It’s free.
It’s been a productive year, and I am proud of these accomplishments. I am also thankful for the time commitment and support that each Advisory Council member has made this year.
We have one meeting remaining—this month—at which I will turn the gavel over to a new Advisory Council chair. I am less certain of how the coming year will unfold than I was one year ago. Uncertainties include the future of Social Security, Medicare, and programs funded by the Older Americans Act. Our political leadership has changed dramatically. We need to do all we can to keep what we’ve got.
President-elect Trump has stated that he will eliminate the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). No alternative has been proposed. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that health insurance coverage would be stripped away from 20 million people over several years, as available coverage would be too costly. This will result in less preventative health care, more emergency care at higher costs, and less care for individuals with chronic conditions that are prevalent in our country, like diabetes, heart disease, and COPD.
During his campaign, President-elect Trump promised that he would not cut Social Security or Medicare. He has said he will “fix” the program by improving the economy. The Republican-controlled Congress has shown periodic interest in privatizing Social Security, which I believe would be a huge mistake—basically eliminating any certainty of support, since the outcome would depend on investment expertise and market success, especially in the years leading up to retirement. I believe privatization of Medicare would also be devastating.
Locally, Aging and Disability Services—our Area Agency on Aging—depends on federal Older Americans Act funds, combined with Washington State Senior Citizens Services Act dollars, to provide long-term care case management services to more than 13,000 King County residents each year, as well as funding home-delivered meals, congregate nutrition programs, caregiver support, health promotion, and other services and information, serving more than 45,000 people every year. Our most vulnerable and isolated residents would be lost without these crucial programs.
As we move forward, I urge you to stay vigilant and to speak out on behalf of older adults in our community. AARP and N4A can keep you informed about national issues. The Washington State Senior Lobby, AARP Washington, and W4A have information about state issues. Locally, ask your city and county representatives if they know about Age-Friendly Communities. The City of Seattle is on board. I hope that King County and suburban cities follow suit.
In closing this article and my term as Advisory Council chair, I say one last time, “Keep moving! Stay connected!” Take care and look out for one another.
Contributor Molly Holmes is the chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. Molly 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.
Photo credit: Photo at top taken by Lorraine Sanford at Age Wave legislative forum in Auburn, Washington on October 4, 2016.
The Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meets monthly, except January and October, and holds periodic forums. The next Advisory Council meeting is on Friday, December 9, 2016 (12:00–2:00 p.m.) in Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 4060 (700 5th Avenue, Seattle). Meetings are 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.