Senior Special Hearing, Older Adults Summit and Senior Care Survey
On September 18, 2019 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese and the Office of Supervisor Cindy Chavez held a special hearing on issues affecting older adults in the Board Chambers at the County Government Center. To prepare for this Summit, Supervisor Cortese’s Office conducted a Senior Care Survey to try to capture what you think are the most important issues facing seniors in order to determine priorities for the services the County provides.
About 17 percent of Santa Clara County residents are over age 60. By 2030, that percentage is expected to grow to 26.3 percent.
Supervisor Cortese’s commitment to senior issues is a continuation of his work going back to 2011 in my State of the County Speech when he called for an assessment and strategy to prepare for the growing population of older adults in this County.
The County convened the County’s first Older Adults Summit, and it led to bringing the community and service providers together work on senior issues through a Seniors’ Agenda, which has become the fifth program in the Department of Aging and Adult Services. Each year, the County puts out a report assessing needs and evaluating our services for older adults.
These efforts have helped Supervisor Cortese’s Office launch an outreach plan to let homeowners know about a school parcel tax exemption that they could be eligible for and not know it, open Santa Clara County’s first Senior Nutrition Program for Vietnamese residents and reopen kitchens at 13 community centers to improve meals.
In 2017, Santa Clara County became the first County in the United States to have all its cities and the county be a part of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-friendly Cities. Each City in the County has created Age Friendly programs. Being an Age-Friendly County means we adopt policies that support the health and longevity of seniors by providing inviting outdoor spaces, safe walking and cycling routes and access to health care. And in doing this, we are making our communities healthier and safer for everyone.
We’ve made progress as a pilot community for a Dementia Friendly America. In January 2017, as Board President, Supervisor Cortese launched the Dementia Friends campaign by becoming the 1st Dementia Friend in Santa Clara County. The goal is to have everyone in Santa Clara County become a Dementia Friend. A Dementia Friend is someone who, through viewing a series of online videos, learns about what it is like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.
Through Supervisor Cortese’s Office and the Office of Aging and Adult Services, the County has stepped up its role in organizing and supporting activities, including Dementia Friendly workshops, tours of art exhibits for those with early stage dementia and providing information at senior centers. Training on age-friendly customer service has also been provided to front-line customer service employees at cities in the County, a YMCA and a community center. Some of them became Dementia Friends. On June 21, 2019, the Alzheimer’s Association and the County hosted a Dementia Friendly Communities Summit to learn about how other local cities and organizations are creating better communities for those living with dementia.