WASHINGTON, September 26, 2013 – Following an announcement by Mayor Gray in October 2012, the District has teamed with the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities and the World Health Organization to make DC an Age-Friendly city.
The Age-Friendly DC Initiative is part of an international effort started by the World Health Organization (WHO) to respond to the twin trends of urbanization and an aging population.
With over half of the world’s population living in cities and that percentage expected to increase to 60% by 2030, the proportion of seniors is also projected double from 11% to 22% by 2050.
Office of Aging Executive Director Dr. John Thompson said, “This forum will produce the second round of data that will produce a Strategic Plan by the spring of next year after the DC Age-Friendly Task Force review the results and present a progress report”.
Deputy Mayor Beatriz ‘BB’ Otero and Age-Friendly Coordinator Gail Kohn led a high tech survey of 10 issue domains and to no one’s surprise the top rated need expressed by the seniors surveyed was access to free or low cost cell phone, cable and Internet plans with a 54% approval rating.
The second highest response was a 51% rating for programs to educate seniors on ways to identify scams, fraud and abusive practices.
Based on a recently completed “Senior Needs Assessment” published in September of 2012 by the DC Office on Aging, wards 3, 4 and 5 constitute a senior belt of neighborhoods where over 15% of the total population is over 60.
That translates into 16,146 seniors accounting for 16.4% of ward 3 population; 16,049 seniors in the immediately adjacent Ward 4 area accounting for 16.3% of the ward’s total population; and 15,530 seniors in Ward 5 accounting for 15.8% of residents.
These three contiguous wards represent nearly half or 48% of the total senior population in the District of Columbia and also represent 3 of the 4 wards along with ward 8, with the highest percentage of home owners in the District, with Ward 4 ranked first with 65.9% homeowners; ward 3 ranked second with 52.5%; ward 8 third with 51.5%; and Ward 5 ranked fourth with 40.5% of senior residents being homeowners.
Ward 5 resident and DC Commission on Aging Chair Romaine Thomas said that, “Seniors are losing everything and everything is becoming so sophisticated with computers that senior access to information is more important than ever”.
In addition to 28% of senior survey responders asking for harsher penalties for scams and abuse; 25% of older residents requested computer training, a near majority of 45% requested access to employment opportunities and favored incentives to employers who hired seniors.