Archive for August, 2009

Kay Torna, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon

Kay Torna, President and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon

The current generation of seniors will live longer than any other — and have less retirement security than any group since Social Security was enacted.

We as a community must begin to look at aging through a new lens. The public and nonprofit sectors generally consider services to the elderly to be a social service function. I would make the case that these services are also part of the community’s economic development strategy.

Dollars spent to provide in-home services and support family caregivers are an investment that pays huge dividends to society. Active, vital seniors living in their own homes contribute greatly to society. They volunteer, support schools, engage in historical and cultural events, and are active participants in a healthy economy.

In order to start a community dialogue about how we contribute to a vital aging process, Volunteers of America Oregon, in collaboration with LifeWorks NW and the Urban League of Portland, produced a report entitled “It Takes a Village to Live a Life — A Community Assessment on Aging.” This report, commissioned by the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, highlights the results from surveys conducted in the last two years and offers creative suggestions for new programs and solutions to address common needs for both older adults and their caregivers. The report is a call to action for the Portland area.

The report documents demographic trends driven by the growing percentage of older adults and their extended life expectancy. It also delineates what impacts these trends will have on the Portland metro region and offers public policy recommendations to address them.

Highlights of this report will be presented to community leaders on Aug. 27. The purpose of the meeting is threefold: to raise the level of awareness of those who can assist in making change; to seek a commitment from area foundations, government, nonprofits and others to join the effort to inform and educate their constituents and the community; and to gather input and support for a call to action.

Working together we can help foster the leadership, political will and momentum to create the kind of community we would all hope to enjoy as we begin our own aging process.

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