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September Greetings from DC Office on Aging

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Mayor’s Fifth Annual Senior Symposium! We had more than 600 seniors and caregivers attend the symposium at the historic Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

The theme for this year’s event was “Healthy Homes. Healthy Hearts. Healthy Living.” One of the highlights of the symposium was our guest speaker, Dr. Patricia Davidson who is a local internist and cardiologist. She gave a great no-nonsense presentation that left everyone thinking about how they eat and how they live their lives—including me! I presented Dr. Davidson with a plaque to recognize her commitment to the District of Columbia and making sure health information is accessible for all of us.

You told me that you wanted a symposium that provided you with useful information—what it means to live healthier, how to connect to community resources, how to access government resources, etc.—so we worked with an advisory panel with seniors from all eight wards on coming up with our programming for the symposium.

I’d like to give special thanks to our government and community partners who served on panels and provided information at the exhibit hall. Our partner agencies do a LOT for seniors in the community (and some even fund DCOA programs like Safe at Home—funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development—and the Aging and Disability Resource Center—funded by the Department of Health Care Finance!), and I’m glad you got to see for yourself the good work that they’re doing and how committed we all are in District government to making sure you’re living well.

The Senior Symposium began a great discussion about healthy aging in the community, and we want to continue the conversation. Over the past year, I’ve told you that I want to hear more from you directly about what we’re doing, and how we’re doing it. Four times a year (once a quarter), I hold town halls at our senior wellness centers. This fall, I’m upping the ante.

DCOA is going to host a two-part Senior Services Town Hall series in September and October on senior services in the District. The first conversation will provide information about DCOA’s services (and how funds are allocated), trends in the District, and other useful information needed to start thinking about the entire system of services and supports.

During the first meeting, we’ll identify community volunteers to lead a conversation with the group that will then be translated back to me in a presentation a couple weeks later—about the current services, whether we should make any changes (and if so, what they are), how to prioritize people needing services when services reach capacity, and whatever else you think I need to do about the services we offer and how you receive those services.

I know you have a lot of ideas—I’ve heard from many of you already—so I really want to know your thoughts based on your experiences and what you know you and your friends and family will need further down the road. My executive team and I will be leading the conversation in each ward in the city, and I’ll be at the community presentation in each ward because I want to hear from you directly. This is the first time we’ve tried something like this, so I’m excited to hear from you about what’s important to you.

This will definitely require commitment from you to make this work, but I know you’re up to the challenge! You’ve heard me say over and over that the foundation of making the District the best place in the world to live and age well is strong community investment. I know we have that foundation here, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on what would make DCOA even better. Thanks for joining me in this important work, and I look forward to seeing you in the community! To find dates, locations, and other important details about the Senior Services Town Hall series, please visit dcoa.dc.gov or ask your local senior wellness center.

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Laura Newland

Executive Director, DC Office on Aging

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