Colorado Communities Identify Needs for Aging Population

Public Conversations on Aging Reveal Key Issues on the Minds of Coloradans ~

Colorado’s seniors and service providers want to be sure they are being heard as the state prepares for a significant demographic shift where nearly one out of every five Coloradans will be 65 years or older by 2030.
 
That’s the conclusion of a report, “Conversations on Aging: Coloradans Identify Gaps, Needs and Hopes for an Aging Population,” issued today by the state’s Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging (SAPGA). The group, charged with helping the state strategize and plan for the 2030 shift, held a series of five regional meetings last fall across the state to listen to residents tell their stories about aging in Colorado.

 
Citizens contributed nearly 450 ideas during the five regional meetings, providing the Planning Group with valuable information on key subject areas. Older adults, families, caregivers, and stakeholders affiliated with the aging network participated in Conversations on Aging based in Grand Junction, Frisco, Pueblo, Fort Morgan, and Denver. The meetings were engaging and interactive, allowing community members from around Colorado to voice their thoughts to SAPGA members.
 
“The Conversations on Aging created a unique environment where participants could engage in substantive discussions,” said 2017 SAPGA Chair Jim Riesberg. “We were there to listen, and those that attended our forums provided us tremendous insights to gaps that exist in services and regions.”
 
Two major themes emerged from the meetings. First, citizens have a perception that the needs of seniors are not a top priority for elected officials from the state to local level. Second, they believe a proactive outreach campaign needs to be launched to bring better awareness of available services and to create awareness of the challenges and opportunities this large influx of aging Coloradoans will bring.
 
Residents pointed out a need for change in several policy areas. While dozens of issues were raised, the ones mentioned most often included:
  • Affordable housing and a strong desire by seniors to age in place;
  • Access and affordability of health care/wellness programs;
  • More access to transportation services and consideration of the mobility needs of seniors;
  • A sufficient workforce to provide services to seniors; and
  • Training and access to caregivers, and recognition of the sacrifices those caregivers make.
Older adults around the state made it clear they want to be part of the solution and to help every senior and their families better prepare for getting older. They also want communities to be responsible for sharing critical information about needs and innovative programs to state government and for policymakers to take appropriate action. 
 
“The establishment of a new Senior Advisor on Aging position in the Governor’s Office will provide an important setting for the information gathered at the community level to be disseminated throughout the executive branch and the General Assembly,” said Karen Brown, who is the SAPGA Chair in 2018.
 
The Planning Group plans to take the following actions in 2018.
  • Update its Action Plan in 2018, incorporating the findings of the Conversations on Aging, as well as research and subcommittee work throughout the year
  • Continue its regional outreach in 2018, believing it is critical to be present and build on the results of the 2017 regional meetings in order to best serve Colorado’s families and communities.
  • Inform state legislators on the findings of the Conversations on Aging, and working with legislators to establish a Legislative Caucus on Aging
  • Meet with and continue a relationship with the incoming Senior Advisor on Aging 
  • Take steps to increase awareness of aging challenges and opportunities and encourage promotion of programs and services available for seniors
  • Continue to research and explore issues of importance to seniors
The full report may be viewed online at: (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/SAPGA%20Regional%20Report%20FINAL%20SPTC.pdf). Coloradans may send a message to agingstrategy@state.co.us for more information or to offer additional comments
 
SAPGA members are available to provide presentations to groups across Colorado.
 
For more information, or to set up interviews with SAPGA leaders, contact:
Gene Rose