This strategic plan represents input from over 200 older adults, community members, service providers, organizations, and leaders. This plan is intended to be a starting point for a collaborative, interactive, community- driven process. Together, we need to ensure that there are affordable and appropriate housing options in safe and vibrant neighborhoods; that there is an accessible network of transportation options to get people where they need to go; that employment, volunteer, social, educational, and recreational opportunities are widely available; that health and wellness are personal and community priorities; that there is recognition, support, and training of caregivers of older adults; and that communities, neighborhoods, and public places are created with age-friendly design principles in mind.
Age Well Boulder County is an ongoing, organic process. Guided by this plan, partner agencies in Boulder County can be a part of an adaptable, sustainable process that recognizes the growing and vital role that older adults play in making Boulder County a wonderful place to live. In order for this plan to be a success, each of us must make a personal commitment to age well. In addition, every community must recognize the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and strive to make aging well a community priority. Information in this plan can be used to develop action steps for policy work, public information campaigns, and resource identification to fund innovative pilot projects in the community. The update of this plan is an invitation and a call to action for policy makers, planners, funders, service providers, faith communities, community organizations, and community members to view aging in a new and positive way, and to work together so that we may all age well.
A livable community provides a safety net that ensures that the basic needs for housing, safety, food, and access to essential services are met. Essential services that are affordable, appropriate and accessible contribute to a high quality of life, personal safety, and well-being.
In a vibrant, livable community, people engage in service, volunteer, maintain connections, and participate in social, civic, cultural, educational, and recreational activities. A vibrant, livable community values older adults and makes aging well a community priority.
A vibrant, age-friendly community promotes healthy behaviors and supports community activities that enhance well-being. Access to affordable wellness services, including preventive care, mental health, and palliative care services, as well as appropriate fitness programs, is essential.
A vibrant, age-friendly community supports a person’s choice to live at home – safely and comfortably. Communities provide support, education, and respite to help family caregivers. Communities also show foresight in planning and design of streets and neighborhoods and engage in land use policy that keeps the aging of the population in mind.
Building on over a decade of collecting and analyzing information about the strengths and needs of older adults in Boulder County, an innovative group of managers of various aging service agencies (the Leadership Team) initiated the creation of a countywide strategic plan for aging well. This strategic plan was first published in 2006 under the name “Creating Vibrant Communities in Which We All Age Well”, and updated in 2010 under the name “Age Well Boulder County: A Plan to Create Vibrant Communities”. In order to ensure that the plan continues to address the current needs of the county’s aging population, the most recent update of the plan was undertaken in 2014. Data was gathered from hundreds of community members through a variety of methods including Community Conversations (focus groups), a random sample quantitative survey of the county’s 60+ population, called the Community Assessment Survey of Older Adults (CASOA™), and priority area discussions to dig deeper into specific areas of interest/concern. In addition, key staff were surveyed and/or interviewed to gain understanding about the current challenges and opportunities they see for the aging population of Boulder County.
May – July 2014 - Community Conversations
The Leadership Team worked with the consulting firm of Kezziah Watkins to conduct in-depth qualitative research to gain first hand understanding of the day-to-day experiences of older adults; identify any significant unmet needs; identify barriers that exist to accessing services; and identify priorities held by older adults for aging well.
Anecdotal sharing of personal stories and circumstances often offers the best picture of people’s feelings, concerns, and lives. To that end, a series of small group Community Conversations, or focus groups, was designed to reach older adults throughout the county. Eighteen sessions were held, in 7 distinct geographic areas and with 5 targeted groups of people. The discussion with participants in each group was carried out through a structured, but comfortable and informal conversation. Each Conversation was moderated by a facilitator with assistance from a note-taker, following a training session provided by Boulder County AAA staff. In addition to the discussion, a written response form was completed by most participants, allowing them to add to the session record with a greater degree of anonymity.
Geographic Conversations were held in Allenspark, Boulder, Erie, Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, and Nederland. Targeted Conversations were held with groups of Latinos, family caregivers, low-income older adults, residents of senior housing sites, and with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adults (LGBT). More than 260 people participated in these Conversations, painting a rich portrait of life as an older adult in Boulder County.
July 2014 - Surveys
The CASOA™ survey was mailed to a random sample of 3,000 households with people over the age of 60 in Boulder County. The survey’s objectives were to identify community strengths and weaknesses and specific needs of older adults, with the goal of assisting local governments, community organizations, the private sector, and community members in more accurately predicting the services and resources needed to serve the aging population and to assess a community’s readiness to support aging in the coming years.
September 2014 - Quadrant Work
In order to further explore the topics and themes that came from the Community Conversations, Quadrant Work Sessions were held, each addressing a specific quadrant topic. (Previous iterations of this plan identified these four key areas vital for communities in which all can age well: Basic Needs, Individual & Community Involvement, Health & Wellness, and Independence & Caregiving.) At each work session, interested community members, service providers, advisory board members, and others were given background information including:
Working in small groups, quadrant session participants were asked to respond to and give their best advice about a series of specific questions developed by the Leadership Team. These questions were developed with the CASOA™ and Community Conversation data in mind and were intended to dig deeper into important topics that arose.
October - December 2014 - New Goals
The Leadership Team considered information gathered from the key informant interviews/surveys, Community Conversations, CASOA™, and the Quadrant Sessions to revise and/or create new goals and action steps for this 2015 update of the plan.
The purpose of this plan is to articulate a shared vision for the kind of community in which everyone has a chance to age well. The approach is multi-pronged, collaborative, and strengths-based; in which older adults are active participants in making decisions about their own goals and services.
Katie Beasley, City of Louisville Senior Services
Cindy Hickman, Town of Erie Active Adults
Betty Kilsdonk, City of Boulder Senior Services
Sherry Leach, Boulder County Area Agency on Aging
Laura Mathews, Boulder County Area Agency on Aging
Michele Waite, City of Longmont Senior Services