Working today for the CHV of the future: Looking Forward

Capitol Hill Village yoga class at SE Public Library

Capitol Hill Village yoga class at SE Public Library

Longevity:  Good nutrition and medical care help people live a long time, despite physical or cognitive declines. And, older adults increasingly want to live at home. By and large, as people age, they require more services and resources from CHV, thereby making them more expensive to serve. This means that, even as new, younger members join CHV, older members are not “leaving” and requesting more services. Seniors have high expectations of engagement, mobility, and activity into their older years. This is all integral to the mission and values of CHV, but it presents a sustainability challenge.

Transportation:  Transportation is a top concern for seniors. Older individuals drive less safely, particularly at night.  Many reduce their driving or rely on others for rides. However, older adults are used to driving and often see taking an alternate form of transportation as an admission of disability. Alternatives to driving must be offered to help seniors stay at home.

Technology:  Technology is moving from a narrowly applied resource for specific sectors of society to a ubiquitous tool that has become an invisible baseline for engagement with the wider world. Seniors are (by-and-large) late adopters and slow learners in keeping up-to-speed with technology’s potential. Yet seniors have better abilities to integrate what they have learned.  The role of technology for seniors aging in community can be immense. There are many technological tools, services, monitors that can make living independently safer, more fun, less expensive, and healthier as people age. Because of the growing social expectation of technology use, seniors who are not tech-enabled are going to be disadvantaged in terms of connecting to goods and services, from paying bills to connecting with the health care system.

Behavior Change:  Evidence demonstrates that habits and practices started earlier in life are sustained longer. For example, a 50-year-old who starts and practices yoga is more likely to persist in continuing the practice into her 80s, compared to a person who begins yoga at age 70. Therefore, CHV aims to help seniors adopt practices and habits sooner, so that they will persist longer. This has many implications for aging. For example, if someone in her 60s starts to take the bus as an alternative to driving, the habit will have a greater chance of persisting than if she tries to learn how to take the bus when she is 80.

Local Services: There are 25% more seniors in D.C. than there are youth in public school. Services and considerations for seniors, who are considered an at-risk class, are important. Yet at the moment there is not enough governmental organization or cohesion around the needs and services for seniors.