By: Bert Rahl, LISW-S, Community Volunteer
Marsha Mitchell Blanks, Community Volunteer
Dear County Executive,
We are all aging. Any person who is reading this is aging. Some are at different places in their aging process. But everyone, regardless of where one lives or where they are in life, deserves to age with dignity. The Council On Older Persons (COOP) is a 50-member organization that serves as an advisory board to The Center for Community Solutions. Comprised of representatives from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, we seek to educate and advocate for the interests of older adults across Greater Cleveland. Our goal is to ensure that older adults remain a policy priority at the local, regional, and state levels.
We are all aging. Any person who is reading this is aging
As the new county executive, you will have an extraordinary opportunity to guide the aging conversation and plan of action in Cuyahoga County. As you are likely aware, the demographics of the county are changing. By 2030, approximately 28 percent of Cuyahoga County’s population will be 60 years of age or older according to Miami University.i Even as you read this, a number of County Council districts will have already started to experience these demographic shifts, where the number of older adults, those age 60 and over, outnumber the number of children 18 and under.ii
What does this mean for older adults in our county? How can we ensure that they have access to food, medical appointments, and social activities? The pandemic has fundamentally reshaped how services are delivered to older adults. It is our hope that the county and the city seize the opportunity to become a national model in how we maintain a high quality of life. COOP is pleased to hear that the county has begun the process of becoming an Age Friendly County through the “Livable Cuyahoga” initiative. * But policies that shape the experiences of older adults are also shaped at both the national and state levels. Many people do not know that is it Medicaid, not Medicare, that is a major funder of long-term care services.iii Additionally, the state plays a critical role in funding social services that impact older adults.
It is our hope that the county and the city seize the opportunity to become a national model in how we maintain a high quality of life.
We hope that you, as the next county executive, play a leading role by using your platform to amplify the experiences of older adults in the county. We also hope that the county recognizes that Black elders have also faced additional hurdles and barriers in life, where differences in health outcomes still reflect racial disparities in diabetes, blood pressure, and other health issues. We hope that the county resolves to reduce those disparities. In COOP, know that you have a group of people who are happy to serve as a network that can assist in spreading the word about public policies that affect the county’s older adults, as well as a sounding board for any ideas. We salute the hard workers at the Division of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS) who do a fantastic job of protecting our elders. We look forward to working with you and your staff to make sure Cuyahoga County reaches its full potential in being an even better place to call home.
Bert Rahl, LISW-S, Community Volunteer, Chair
Marsha Mitchell Blanks, Community Volunteer, Vice-Chair
*Full Disclosure: The Center for Community Solutions is conducting research associated with this project.