October 4, 2023

SANTA CRUZ — The so-called silver tsunami of getting older adults has already arrived at Santa Cruz County’s shores, however native leaders say they’re stepping up efforts to deal with the escalating disaster.

The county was lately named an “age-friendly neighborhood” by the AARP , a essential step in its work to help the well being and wellbeing of older residents whereas it continues improvement of a Grasp Plan on Getting older.

“The objective of those two complimentary initiatives is to create a neighborhood that promotes wholesome getting older for all,” Alicia Morales, Santa Cruz County Grownup and Lengthy Time period Care Division director, stated throughout a presentation to the Board of Supervisors earlier this week. “It’s an bold county-wide effort and can’t be only a authorities initiative.”

Based on Morales, one-third of all county residents will likely be age 60 or older by 2030, which exceeds the already regarding statewide ratio projecting one out of 4 residents, or about 10.8 million individuals, to be 60 or older inside the identical timeframe.

This pattern is particularly acute within the well being care trade, defined Morales, including that about 20% of medical doctors within the Central Coast area are 65 and older. “With our fast-growing senior inhabitants needing higher ranges of care, this presents a public well being problem,” stated Morales.

The framework is centered round eight domains of livability together with housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and knowledge, neighborhood helps and well being providers, outside areas and buildings and transportation. Based mostly on its distinctive set of challenges, county officers have additionally added emergency preparedness and elder justice to spherical out its listing to 10 priorities.

The board directed the Human Providers Division to hunt the age-friendly standing in Might, after the unique request from 2019 was delayed as a result of onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The county now joins a community of greater than 771 communities in 12 states, representing 100 million individuals together with town of Watsonville. The town of Santa Cruz is presently within the technique of making use of.

If the county is ready to make progress on its age-friendly targets, Clay Kempf, govt director of the Seniors Council and Space Company on Getting older in Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, says it’ll routinely go a good distance towards reaching lots of the Grasp Plan for Getting older’s objectives.

Kempf and his group have been tapped as a key county associate to develop 5 “daring objectives” for the grasp plan: housing for all ages and phases, well being reimagined, caregiving that works, affording getting older and inclusion and fairness, not isolation.

“Authorities can’t do that (alone), non-public trade can’t do that alone, nonprofits can’t do it alone. However hopefully by bringing your complete neighborhood collectively … will make a number of progress in the direction of getting there,” stated Kempf, noting that the age 65 to 84 inhabitants in Santa Cruz County has grown by greater than 80% up to now decade – the quickest progress price within the state.

“The disaster is now; the necessity is going on proper now,” he stated.

Since early 2022, county management, in collaboration with the seniors council, the county’s 4 cities and the 4th and 2nd supervisor districts, have been holding quarterly Grasp Plan for Getting older governance conferences. The group established a 10-member steering committee which is presently creating a wants evaluation that may assist establish native priorities together with system enhancements and coverage initiatives.