There is one thing everyone in Montgomery County has in common: we are all getting older. While I appreciate the county’s “Senior Agenda” as a first step, we need a more substantial plan to make sure that Montgomery County is doing its utmost to become a senior-friendly county. We must become an inclusive and accessible county that promotes active aging. I want to do four things to achieve this:
Join the World Health Organization’s Age-friendly communities network
I want to follow the examples of a growing number of cities and counties across the nation, such as New York, Portland and DC and join the World Health Organization’s Network of Age-Friendly communities in order to better meet the needs of our aging population. We can accomplish this goal by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security for our older residents to enhance their quality of life as they age. We must adapt our structures and services to be accessible to and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capabilities. A few examples of what we would do:
- Upgrade all our senior centers to become Innovative Senior Centers or ISCs, which offer a new model for the 21st Century Senior by providing enhanced programming, including robust wellness programs, additional access to health care services, arts and cultural programs, as well as new technological and volunteer opportunities. They will also include flexible and expanded hours.
- Work with HHS to create Aging Improvement Districts in certain parts of the county, which would bring together older adults in the area with the local leaders and businesses to make improvements at no and low-cost. We would start with a pilot program and expand further from there.
- By providing resources necessary for those interested, older residents looking to become entrepreneurs themselves will be part of my plan to make Montgomery County the startup center of the Washington region.
Enhance communication of benefits available to both seniors and their adult children
Montgomery County is a great place and a large part of that are the quality services it provides. Going around the county and talking with residents, very few are aware of all the excellent amenities available to them. We need to do a much better job to promote these opportunities.
Engage “villages”, and other senior communities in county to form a partnership and also help spread word on benefits available
Throughout our county, there are a multitude of opportunities available for senior living: Villages, as one example, allow older adults to remain in their communities, and gives members a voice in the types of services provided and when and how they are provided, encourages volunteerism, reduces isolation, and creates a sense of community among members. Montgomery County should partner with these different opportunity providers to ensure that our residents have a good handle on the benefits available and decide what is best for them and their loved ones.
Work with the State
Lastly, through stronger leadership, we will work with state leaders to address how state tax policies are impacting seniors and their ability to retire here compared to other jurisdictions.
Montgomery County is a great place to live, and we need a leader with the right vision, and ability to get things done, in order to make sure that our future is as bright as our past has been. That is why I am running for County Executive, and I ask you to vote for me on June 24 to see real Leadership In Action.