This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. This event is sold out. If you would like to be on our invite list for next year and hear about our other events, you can subscribe here at COA News.
OREGON LEADS THE WAY
by Patti Digh
Oregon has long been known as an innovator in community-based care options for older people who need ongoing assistance with daily activities. The state was the first to receive a federal waiver to provide home and community-based services for adults with low incomes who would otherwise require nursing home placement. Assisted living facilities, now common across the U.S., began in Oregon. In 2009, AARP ranked Oregon first in use of home and community-based services for older persons and adults with disabilities and next to last in use of nursing facilities. Other states and countries have studied Oregon’s assisted living, home care, and adult foster care programs.
“Toward an Age-Friendly Portland” is a Portland State University Planning Workshop Project whose aim is to create an “Age-Friendly Action Plan” for the City of Portland. Planning for age friendliness is a collaborative partnership among the people of Portland, City bureaus, Multnomah County, Metro, and many non-profit organizations and those efforts are directed at creating choices and opportunities for older adults to live healthy, vibrant, happy lives.
In the coming decades, Portland (and Oregon as a whole) will see a substantial increase in the population of older adults both in size and as a percentage of the population. Properly supported, this generational shift can result in a more resilient Portland with stronger neighborhoods where people can grow up and grow old.
Many of Portland’s efforts to improve livability for its older citizens have made, and are likely to continue to make, Portland friendlier to people of all ages. The City’s approach to increasing quality of life, including the Portland Plan’s “healthy, connected neighborhoods” concept, generally supports a high quality of life for older adults. Walkable, bikeable, mixed-use places that feature parks and social gathering spaces, located near convenient, accessible transit improves the ability of older adults to access the goods, services, and social and recreational opportunities they desire for a healthy and satisfying life.
Portland is focused on improving the quality of life for older adults and people of all ages by focusing on three things: Age-Friendly Neighborhoods, Age-Friendly Housing Options, and An Age-Friendly Transportation System.
The vision of this Age-Friendly Portland project is compelling: “In an age-friendly Portland, the lives of older adults abound with choice and opportunity. Portlanders will embrace the transition into late adulthood. Since growing older is not associated with a diminished quality of life, older adults expect to enjoy active and satisfying lives throughout their golden years. Elders look forward to encore careers, fulfilling volunteer opportunities, pursuing their favorite activities, and new adventures. Older adults maintain their autonomy, health, security, and social connections. In an Age-Friendly Portland, intergenerational connections bolster interdependent vivacity across the age spectrum. A network of healthy, connected, and complete neighborhoods will intentionally cater to the needs of older adults. Vibrant, walkable neighborhoods cultivate an effortless sense of community amongst people of all ages. The everyday lives of all people will overlap through expanded and inclusive social networks.
Barriers to intergenerational interactions have been removed, and the isolation of older adults is a memory of the past. Easy access to social gathering spaces like parks, neighborhood plazas, community centers, restaurants, and cafes enable Portlanders to stay active, healthy, and involved as they age. A range of social, educational, and recreational activities fuel friendships, curiosity, and resilience among seniors. Diverse and inclusive neighborhoods support safety and security throughout the city. Older adults will thrive in affordable, attractive, well-constructed homes of their choice. A diverse range of housing types and arrangements provide the opportunity for elders of all incomes to age in place or age in community. Flexible, adaptable dwellings facilitate new possibilities.
Older Portlanders also have the option to move into housing that better suits their needs at different stages of aging, whether that is a smaller home that requires less maintenance, an apartment close to family, or a familiar home environment shared with peers that offers living and nursing assistance. A well-balanced transportation system will enable older adults to safely and conveniently access the things they need. Older adults feel comfortable moving about the city no matter how they choose to travel. A walkable and rollable network of smooth, barrier-free sidewalks, walking paths, and functional crosswalks benefit all users, including those using mobility aids. Off-street trails, neighborhood greenways, and protected on-street bikeways provide a pleasant, low-stress bicycling and strolling experience.”
It’s an inspiring vision for the future. Let’s learn from Oregon and work to create an age-friendly country!