City submits Area Plan on Aging to State

Seattle, WA— Today, as the designee by the State of Washington as the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for King County, the Seattle Human Services Department has submitted the Area Plan is a State-required document that guides the work of ADS over the next four years. It reflects the needs of older adults and people with disabilities, and highlights our goals for developing livable communities. The plan describes relevant demographic trends; the function, staffing and structure of the AAA; the functions provided directly by the AAA and those that are subcontracted; and major service goals and objectives. The plan also summarizes the ADS annual budget of $38 million in federal, state and local resources, and is updated every two years. Final State approval is expected in early 2016.

Through its Aging and Disability Services Division, HSD invests $38 million in federal, state and local resources to help meet the needs of King County’s fastest growing population-seniors. In King County seventeen percent of the population is age 60 and older. This represents a 43 percent increase since the year 2000.  The fastest-growing segment of the total population is the “oldest old”—age 85 and older.

Among residents age 60 and older roughly 23 percent (78,504) are people of color —up four percent from 2011. Of residents age 65 and older, 19 percent (41,899) speak a language other than English at home and three percent (7,431) do not speak any English. Further, as the older adult population becomes more diverse, the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults is also expected to grow.

To guide the development of the plan, ADS conducted an extensive community engagement process, collaborated with experts on issues areas, and conducted research on the needs of older adults and adults with disabilities. The greatest needs and areas of concern were related to housing, health/healthcare, transportation, safety and socialization. Strategies to address these needs include preparing both consumers and local governments for an aging population. Specific efforts include making sure people have access to information and resources before they are needed (Community Living Connections) and collaborating across sectors to create “age friendly” communities.

The Area Plan outlines the following issues and goals:

  • Maximize current program, funding and staff capacity to meet the needs of complex Long-Term Services and Supports clients.
  • Delay Medicaid-funded long-term services and supports by encouraging health promotion and disease prevention; increasing awareness about Alzheimer’s disease, memory care and wellness for older adults and adults with disabilities; and reducing the incidence of falls.
  • Integrate Aging and Disability Network services with other health and human services systems for better health and better care at a lower cost.
  • Ensure greater success for Native American elders in King County.
  • Promote/develop a regional framework to increase awareness about the aging population; influence municipalities, stakeholders, policy and decision makers, and consumers to prepare their communities for the aging population; and encourage people of all ages to keep moving and stay connected.

The draft Area Plan 2016–2019 is available online.

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 The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net as it provides $99 million in funding through 522 contracts to nearly 200 agencies that support Seattle’s most vulnerable residents each year. The department works closely with its community partners, including other public and nonprofit funders and service providers, to understand current and emerging human service needs, and to create and invest in a comprehensive and integrated regional human services system.