On Sept. 25, Innovations in Aging Collaborative and Penrose Hospital sponsored a simulcast from Boston featuring renowned surgeon and author of the best-seller, “Being Mortal,” Dr. Atul Gawande. He talked about aging, living life with purpose and how we can transform the possibilities for the later chapters of everyone’s lives. I was especially struck by these comments:
• Health and survival are what most aging adults think they need, but Dr. Gawande’s work has led him to believe that safety and autonomy are most important.
• Ask yourself: What are your joys? What are you fighting for that you don’t want to give up? What does your best possible day look like?
These topics and questions are at the core of IIAC’s work in our community, including overseeing the intergenerational Age-Friendly Colorado Springs Action Plan. The goal is simple: If our community is great for an 8-year-old or an 80-year-old, it will be great for everyone.
One of my favorite IIAC projects is the Old North End Neighborhood Intergenerational Village, fondly known as “ONEN iVillage.” It supports programs, policies and practices in ONEN that increase cooperation, interaction and exchange between people of different generations. It is part of IIAC’s work related to affordable housing to help people stay in their homes as long as they wish as they age.
An old-fashioned “neighbor-helping-neighbor” model, it includes a paid part-time coordinator and provides resources such as discounted services from local vetted vendors and a centralized volunteer program where ONEN residents can sign up to receive or provide services such as ride sharing, babysitting, lawn mowing and snow removal. Working with vetted vendors in ONEN is important to ensure freedom from scams or fraud and is a great opportunity for local businesses to get involved.
IIAC partnered with the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado to create an Age-Friendly Business Certification program that helps area businesses with best practices in serving aging adults. We know 70 percent of disposable income in the U.S. is in the hands of those over 60 years old and that the number of people 65-plus will increase from 68,000 to 176,500 by 2040. This is an important market segment that David Beiner, owner of Next Day Access Colorado, understands.
Next Day Access is one of the BBB Age-Friendly Businesses and is in the process of becoming an ONEN iVillage vetted vendor. His company provides people independent living solutions delivered quickly to their homes. David moved to Colorado Springs three years ago from Florida where he did this type of work part-time. He thought it was a great business model that would enable him to meet two of his goals — help people and pay the bills. A real renaissance man, he is also a paralegal and classically trained chef.
Next Day Access employs one full-time person, in addition to David, and three part-timers. Their most frequently requested services are wheelchair ramps, stair lifts and grab bars, though they provide other home accessibility products as well. David also gives back in other ways, serving on the housing committee of Age-Friendly Colorado Springs and encouraging his employees to become iVillage volunteers.
“I never assume any job will be like yesterday’s,” he said. “Nothing is quite square in most ONEN houses.”
Another strategic priority of the Age-Friendly Colorado Springs Action Plan called for the creation of a Commission on Aging. This became a reality in April as a result of a new Colorado Springs City Council ordinance. The commission’s purpose is to act as advocates for our older adults and make recommendations to the City Council and mayor.
IIAC is a small nonprofit doing big work, hard work. Claire Anderson, IIAC’s Executive Director said, “Innovations in Aging Collaborative has found success by leveraging strong community relationships and collective knowledge. Being appointed by Mayor John Suthers to administer the Age Friendly Colorado Springs project is an honor and a responsibility we don’t take lightly. Thanks to our network of partners, we enjoyed national recognition for our innovative work in 2017.”
Let’s be a great city for everyone, whether 8 or 80 years old. What does your best possible day look like?
To become a preferred vendor, a volunteer or a member of the ONEN iVillage, call IIAC at 719-602-3815.
B.J. Scott, former executive director of Peak Vista Foundation, former CEO of Peak Vista Community Health Systems and co-founder of Innovations in Aging Collaborative, can be reached at email@example.com.