Age Friendly Pikes Peak Update
from the Innovations in Aging Collaborative
Summit a success; work groups are next step
We enjoyed a wonderful summit meeting on November 17 at the beautiful City Auditorium. More than 100 people came together to hear informative presentations and provide their input to make El Paso County more Age Friendly.
Now we’re looking for about 50 people to help us turn the great input we’ve received into our Age Friendly 2.0 Plan. But first, some summit highlights and thank-yous.
- We were pleased to have key local and state leaders join us at the summit. County Commissioner Cami Bremer described the county’s significant investments in senior-oriented housing projects. She emphasized the importance of age friendly planning: “Older adults are a precious resource that is easily overlooked. Our environment and our lifestyle choices affect how we age.”
- Steve Posey, Colorado Springs Community Development Manager, reviewed the city’s support for age friendly work since 2016. He noted the value of universal design principles in infrastructure improvements and new developments.
- Jarett Hughes, Governor Polis’s Policy Advisor on aging, surveyed state-level efforts to promote livable aging and urged coordination across domains and between local and state levels. Hughes said the state looks to El Paso County as a leader in implementing best practices.
- Participants generated amazing ideas when asked to draw their own picture of what an age friendly community looks like. A dozen participants described their visions to the whole group, providing creative input for the afternoon discussions.
- Since we’re all about valuing the contributions of older people, it was fitting that we also valued an older building! Linda Weise delivered an inspiring message on future plans for the City Auditorium.
- We held and captured comments from 14 small-group discussions on seven topics: housing, transportation, social connection, communication, the physical environment, health, and workforce.
So, what’s next?
On November 30, the Age Friendly Pikes Peak steering committee met to review an analysis of the input and determine a structure for the work groups that will develop components of the El Paso County Age Friendly 2.0 Action Plan. We agreed on the following approach.
Five work groups will be formed around the following topics:
We must ensure that El Paso County housing supports the vision of a place to grow up and grow older. For those who want to remain in the County, are there diverse housing options (i.e., affordable, accessible, visitable) designed for changing needs? Do these housing options allow residents to engage in the community as they desire—accessing services, businesses, outdoor recreation, and arts and culture? Do we have policies and practices that support aging in community, and if not, what do we need?
Age Friendly Environment (including physical environment and transportation)
Are our communities accessible, supportive of diverse mobility needs, safe, welcoming of all ages, and encouraging of active participation? This could include transportation, mobility, accessibility, park infrastructure, connectivity between neighborhoods and parks or other destinations, connectivity between communities across the County, bike safety, and more.
Social Connection and Communication
Are we ensuring that people have opportunities to participate in social and civic activities, create connections across generations, explore new interests and be active in the community whether they are homebound, have limited access to transportation, or have no barriers? This also requires a focus on communication, such as how information is distributed to support inclusivity, integrating a variety of primary languages and cultures, and technology barriers such as broadband access.
Does El Paso County offer health and wellness resources and opportunities for all residents? This could include access to high-quality physical, mental and behavioral health resources, connectivity and support for informal caregivers, resources to support the unique challenges of caregivers for adult children, access to information about the many varied services and programs across the County, community awareness of dementia and more.
As we work toward being a more age friendly county, do we have the workforce needed to fulfill our vision? As older people live longer and work longer, we must address engaging and developing an encore workforce and creating and sustaining age friendly businesses. This could include addressing workforce shortages in critical commerce areas, or in healthcare settings such as home care, hospital care, and long-term care. We might address actions related to skills building, education on ageism, building an intergenerational workplace culture, recruitment and retention, and more.
All work groups should consider these cross-cutting concerns:
- Making intergenerational connections
- Diverse and inclusive outreach
- Education and awareness
- Effective advocacy
- Collaborations and partnerships
- Combating ageism
The work groups will meet in January and February 2023 to produce recommendations for the overall action plan, to be composed in March 2023.
If you are willing to participate in a work group, please contact email@example.com or (719) 602-3815 as soon as possible, indicating your first and second choices.
(If you already signed up at the summit, you don’t have to respond again; we will contact you within the next week.)
We intend to identify work group assignments before the end of the year so that we can arrange group meetings that accommodate everyone’s schedule in January and February.
Have a great holiday season and we look forward to making great progress in 2023!