Commentary: Fairfax County Takes Steps To Improve Senior Services

Commentary: Fairfax County Takes Steps To Improve Senior Services

Fairfax County is actively working to improve services to seniors and make the County friendlier to those growing older in our communities. One of the most prominent advancements has been the 50 + Action Plan developed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, in partnership with the Fairfax Area Commission on Aging and the Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. The plan addresses gaps in services and identifies future improvements to address the challenges facing our seniors. The final plan is expected to be presented to the Board of Supervisors this fall for approval.

In 2013, the 50 + Committee of the Board of Supervisors built on the County’s efforts in the 50 + plan and initiated a community dialogue. Based on the input received, several workgroups were established to address topics such as transportation, housing, services and community engagement. Each of the subcommittees has a community champion and comprises community members from the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Thirty-one initiatives were enumerated with the guiding principles to be attainable, affordable and actionable within the next five years.

What is happening right now?

A few of the initiatives are already in practice and some are on the verge of implementation. One example is NOVA Rides, which has been awarded some start-up funding from the Consolidated Community Funding Pool (CCFP). This project, operated by the Jewish Community Center, coordinates ride requests between local nonprofits providing the services. The efforts of the 50 + Plan and NOVA Rides hope to provide additional support to their already outstanding efforts.

One segment of the plan I would encourage is senior volunteerism. The 50 + plan is working to establish two unique approaches to promoting senior participation in our communities. The first is Grand Involve, which is a program that connects experienced older adult volunteers to work with local schools. The program will help strengthen the bonds of the oldest and youngest community members and support the education of our most vulnerable populations.

The other endeavor is Venture in Volunteerism, which concentrates efforts on recruiting and placing older adults with various volunteer opportunities. Our retired folks have a vast array of talents and skills that are perfectly suited to meet the needs of many of our charities and nonprofit organizations.

Another important priority for Braddock District laid out in the 50+ plan is preventing criminal exploitation of residents. I will be promoting safe living by hosting and promoting a series on criminal exploitation prevention. Protecting our residents is matter of great importance, so look for this series in the coming months.

Action Items on the Horizon:

With full Board approval of the Plan this fall, many of the other initiatives are positioned to come into realization.

Join the effort! Reach out to one of the subcommittees: Transportation, Housing, Safe & Healthy Communities, Services for Older Adults and Caregivers and see how you can contribute. Feel free to contact my office directly and we will put you in touch with the right person. Our aging population has given their time and support to our communities and schools endlessly. In order for these solutions to take place, they need community ownership. Join in the effort to empower seniors to live many healthy, happy years here in Fairfax County.

For more specific details about the plan, the progress, and results please visit the Fairfax Area Commission on Aging or with the Fairfax Area on Aging website.