County task force on aging approves plan

Proposal outlines needs, goals as population gets older

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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A suggested blueprint for how Clark County can prepare for an aging population was approved Thursday by the county task force appointed last year by commissioners to draft the plan.

“Thank you so much for your time,” Commissioner Marc Boldt told the approximately 20 members of the task force. “The wealth of knowledge in this room is incredible.”

The chair of the Aging Readiness Task Force, Jesse Dunn, works as the executive director of The Arc of Clark County. Other members have work experience in senior housing, health care, transportation and support services.

The Aging Readiness Plan focuses on key issues, such as: sufficient affordable housing and services to help people remain in their homes and public transit to assist older folks who no longer drive. It also addresses a need for ways to keep senior citizens engaged in the community, such as volunteer opportunities.

Following national trends, by 2030 one in four Clark County residents will be 60 or older, according to the report. That segment will grow from 16 percent to 23 percent of the population; the number of people age 85 and older will increase by 50 percent.

“This growing segment of our community is going to redefine what a livable community means in Clark County,” the report said. “Clark County must ensure housing options and opportunities to meet the needs of older residents and encourage aging-in-place and aging-in-community.”

The report notes that while many people might want to remain in their homes past the time they can go up and down stairs, only 35 percent of current homes are single-story, ranch-style homes.

The report includes short-term, medium-term and long-term goals.

Oliver Orjiako, the county’s director of long-term planning, said he will work on an implementation plan.

Members of the task force emphasized Thursday that they want to hear community feedback.

A forum will be 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27 in the auditorium of Clark College’s Foster Hall, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way.

The county hopes to fill 250 seats, and so while the event is free, they would like people to register at http://www.clark.wa.gov/aging. Or call 360-397-2280 ext. 4958. People will be able to ask questions at the presentation.

To read the plan, go to http://www.clark.wa.gov/aging.

The county commissioners will consider adopting the plan in February 2012 after a public hearing.