Placer joins AARP’s network of age-friendly states and communities
Published May 31, 2022
Placer County, home to an aging population relative to the state as a whole, recently joined the AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, alongside a handful of other California counties and numerous cities including the City of Roseville.
There are currently over 107,000 Placer residents aged 60 and older, and that number is expected to grow to over 133,000 by 2030.
Placer’s new membership in the network follows an application process and a review of countywide efforts to support older adults, including accomplishments from the recently-concluded Placer County 5-Year Plan for Meeting the Needs of a Growing Senior Population.
“Becoming part of this nationwide network reflects our county’s commitment to creating a more livable, age-friendly community for older adults,” said Amy Ellis, director of the county’s Adult System of Care. “We have made great progress and there is more work ahead. We will benefit from invaluable resources, information and guidance AARP can provide on critical issues facing the county now, and in the years to come.”
In 2016, local leaders recognized the growing older adult population in Placer County and the potential for shifting needs. In response to this changing demographic, the Placer County 5-Year Plan for Meeting the Needs of a Growing Senior Population was created. The plan emerged from collaboration between the Older Adult Advisory Commission, the Health and Human Services department and other local agencies and organizations, with oversight from the Placer County Board of Supervisors.
The plan included a thorough needs assessment, encompassing countywide data, focus group conversations with community organizations, online and paper-based surveys, town halls and more. Over 200 older adults from all areas of the county participated in discussions and over 400 surveys were completed. The plan was a living document where goals and priorities were adjusted to meet the evolving needs of the community.
From its inception in 2016 to its conclusion late last year, many activities connected to the plan have made a positive impact on the local senior community, and informed the county’s application to AARP’s age-friendly network, including:
- Placer County implemented a 211 information and referral system that provides a free, confidential, multilingual information line and website that connects older adults to services and resources.
- Placer also has established an Aging and Disability Resource Connection that brings together county and community partners to streamline access to services for people with disabilities, older adults, family members and caregivers.
- The revamped and rider-centric Placer Rides transportation service has replaced earlier models, and is expected to cover 800,000 miles annually with more than 300 unduplicated riders, at a lower cost.
- Placer County recently established an innovative senior shared-housing program designed to alleviate the affordability housing problem by capitalizing on the numerous unoccupied bedrooms in homes throughout the county.
- Placer County recently contracted with a local mental health nonprofit organization to operate its Senior Peer Counseling program. Senior Peer Counseling provides confidential, short-term, in-home, or virtual peer counseling free to county residents aged 55 years and older. This program has proven to be invaluable considering how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the social isolation and loneliness older adults commonly face, which can negatively affect their mental and physical health.
As the county joins the AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, it will also turn from the recently-completed local five-year plan to the state’s first-ever Master Plan on Aging, which is a 10-year blueprint. This process will include additional collaborative and cross-sector partnerships, building on past success.