The Washtenaw County Commission on Aging (COA) is committed to serving the residents of Washtenaw County and engaging in the ongoing work to ensure healthy fulfilling aging that is rooted in equity for older adults in the county.
The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners charged the COA with defining the needs of, and advocating on behalf of, the older adults of county seniors 60 years of age and older, including providing recommendations to the County Board of Commissioners and relevant stakeholders on the prudent spending of public funds related to senior services.
The Coronavirus pandemic exacerbated social issues impacting the aging and older adult community in Washtenaw County, Michigan. As an appointed body, the COA set out to identify gaps in aging and older adult services as well as the unmet needs of seniors in the county in an effort to inform the Board of Commissioners and lay the groundwork for developing a strategic plan for healthy and fulfilling aging in Washtenaw County. Although the data existed in various silos, gathering and presenting all of the data in one place allows for the greatest impact.
Kovir LLC leveraged its representation in the COA to lead the synthetization of data from a number of surveys to identify the most pressing issues impacting older adults in the county, elevate the discussion around how the county can promote equity, justice, and the empowerment of Washtenaw County older adults, and provide recommendations on the spending of public funds.
The 16-page report identified key challenges that require immediate public spending and long-term support, including:
- Home care assistance (meal preparation, dressing/bathing, managing health) and home maintenance (repairs, snow removal, lawn/yard care)
- Affordable housing
- Socialization and barriers to social engagement
- Moving towards a model of Aging Justice
The data gathered and analyzed also informed the Washtenaw County Commission on Aging’s position on public spending to respond to the adversities facing older adults and their providers as well as to help prepare for future needs and challenges. This included:
- Supporting and funding ARPA Older Adult Recovery Fund proposals and requests
- Supporting and funding a county-wide strategic plan for healthy and fulfilling aging
- Incorporating an age-inclusive lens to county workshops, initiatives, and spending
- Supporting and funding age-specific organizations and programs with qualifying Federal, State, and County funds
- Supporting merit-based ballot requests for aging services millage