Age-Friendly Communities

Outdoor spaces and buildings | Transportation | Housing | Social participation | Respect and social inclusion | Civic participation and employment | Communication and information | Community and health services |

graphic image of the World Health Organization's 8 domains of livability, each in a small circle encircling a large photo of a happy multigenerational family running across a lawnAging and Disability Services is committed to helping communities become more age-friendly under criteria established by AARP and the World Health Organization, called “The 8 Domains of Livability.”

Aging and Disability Services can provide information and guidance to any community in King County that is interested in becoming more age-friendly. The agency staffs the community-based Age Friendly Coalition for Seattle and King County, which meets every other month, along with a number of committees. For archived agendas, minutes, and presentations, click here or e-mail agefriendly@seattle.gov.

The City of Seattle joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities in July 2016 and strengthened their commitment in March 2017 with a Mayor/Council resolution and set of early actions. Follow their progress at www.seattle.gov/agefriendly.

Following are articles about age-friendly communities published during the past year in AgeWise King County, a monthly e-zine published by the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services:

The following sections outline—by domain—local efforts and opportunities for communities in Seattle-King County to become more livable for both older residents and people of all ages.

Outdoor spaces and buildings
An age-friendly community promotes safe and accessible places to gather, indoors and out.

Universal Design is a concept for designing all aspects of the built environment—homes, mobility routes, landscapes, commercial developments, products and life space, including equipment and architecture—with the goal of making them accessible to every person, regardless of age or ability.

Aging and Disability Services is working with our Advisory Council, other local and national organizations, and community members to promote the use of Universal Design. Our hope is that Universal Design will become commonplace in all aspects of the built environment—enabling all to remain in the place they call home, even if their abilities change.

UDC-logo-webThe Northwest Universal Design Council (NWUDC) serves as a forum to educate and collaborate in an effort to promote universal design and create “environments for all.” The council reports to the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services on a monthly basis, holds monthly steering committee meetings, and offers periodic educational forums on Universal Design issues. To sign up for their listserv, visit NWUDC email list.

Resources:

Transportation
accessible-options-map

The King County Mobility Coalition produced this guide to accessible travel options in Seattle and King County—public, private, and nonprofit. Click on the image to open a PDF copy . To request a printed copy of the Getting Around King County map, e-mail mobility@hope-link.org. Updated Summer 2016.

An age-friendly community promotes safe and accessible transportation options for all people, including those that provide community mobility for people with special needs.

Aging and Disability Services (ADS) collaborates with transportation and other community-based service providers to develop a coordinated transportation system in King County. Our vision is to provide mobility for the entire community: children, youth, older adults, individuals with disabilities, residents with language barriers, and those with low-income status.

ADS is represented on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Special Needs Transportation Committee. Partners include the Puget Sound Regional Council; Washington State Department of Transportation; King, Pierce, and Snohomish county transit agencies; and local human services providers.

ADS is also active in the King County Mobility Coalition, which facilitates the coordination of King County special needs transportation to better serve the community. The Coalition’s website includes committee roster, meeting schedules, minutes and agendas.

Tips for Getting Around King County, the King County Mobility Coalition’s Community Travel Video Series, can help you learn to ride the bus, pay for the bus and light rail, and use other ways to travel. It’s available in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Cantonese, English, Korean, Mandarin, Nepali, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese, along with storyboards that you can print out to share. Visit the King County Mobility Coalition and click on the language you want and then on each of three videos. Links are also available on this website (click here).

Resources:

Housing
Cover of "Moving Toward Age Friendly Housing" report

Click the image to open the report.

An age-friendly community promotes accessible and affordable housing for people of all ages and abilities.

Aging and Disability Services collaborates with community partners to promote age-friendly housing that meets the needs of older adults in King County. In 2017, a team of researchers from Washington State University and Portland State University created the Age Friendly Housing Assessment Report, Moving Toward Age-Friendly Housing in King County. The assessment, along with a complementary report summarizing stakeholder and community input, was designed to update our understanding of the housing needs of older adults and to recommend strategies to increase and expand age-friendly housing in King County.

Some of the key findings of the assessment are:

  • Older adult households are increasing rapidly in King County.
    • In 2015, about 37 percent of heads of household were adults age 55 years and older. This percentage is projected to increase to approximately 47 percent in 2030, and 62 percent in 2050.
    • The increase of older adult households is outpacing the supply of accessible and affordable housing in King County.
  • Housing is unaffordable for many older King County households.
    • A higher percentage of households with older adults live in unaffordable housing compared to households without older adults.
    • Households with older adults who rent their home are more likely to have unaffordable housing: over half these households live in unaffordable housing.
    • Among regions in King County, the Eastside has the highest percentage of older renters living in unaffordable housing.
    • Approximately 40 percent of senior households with a mortgage live in unaffordable housing.
  • Low-income older adults are unable to afford housing in King County.
    • A higher percentage of households with older adults are low-income.
    • A quarter of households with older adults are unable to afford the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in King County.
    • On the Eastside, over a third of households with older adults could not afford the median rent without assistance.
  • King County is becoming more diverse as the size of many historically under-served populations is increasing.
    • The population of people of color is increasing.
    • The population of immigrants and refugees is increasing.
    • While King County has one of the largest LGBTQ populations in the country, housing options that are both age- and LGBTQ-friendly are limited.
    • As the population ages, King County will see an increase in the percentage of the population that has a disability.
    • A higher percentage of persons of color have a disability.

The assessment report and community engagement report contain several recommendations. Aging and Disability Services is working with community partners to prioritize recommendations for implementation in alignment with Age Friendly Seattle, the Regional Affordable Housing Taskforce, the King County Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy, and other affordable housing plans and initiatives.

In 2016, ADS partnered with the Housing Development Consortium on a Housing and Aging Forum that kicked off our efforts to update Quiet Crisis: Age Wave Maxes Out Affordable Housing, a 2009 senior housing report.

Get free, confidential housing information and referrals to local benefits via the professional advocates at Community Living Connections.

Resources

For 24/7 online access to benefits information, visit any of the following National Council on Aging programs:

Local housing resources include:

Social participation

An age-friendly community encourages accessible and affordable social and recreation options for all ages.

Lifelong learning

lifelong-learning

Following are a variety of promising lifelong learning opportunities for older residents of Seattle and King County.

Classes—General

  • Northwest Center for Creative Aging: Presents programs to help adults to find new meaning in their lives as they age, delivered in senior communities, libraries and other venues throughout the Seattle region.
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute-UW: Workshops and special events for adults over 50 led by retired UW faculty and community experts. Classes taught in multiple locations.
  • Seattle Lifelong Recreation Program: Arts, fitness and social opportunities for people age 50+ sponsored by Seattle Parks and Recreation and offered at multiple community centers.
  • South Seattle College: Continuing education classes related to the arts, food and wine, personal enrichment, computers, professional continuing education, and online courses.

The arts and healthy aging

art_Central Group

Senior Centers Provide a Bevy of Art Opportunities (AgeWise King County, January 2015) features the art group at The Central senior center, and many more.


Following are a variety of promising participatory arts and arts appreciation opportunities for older residents of Seattle and King County.

Classes—General

Dance

  • Dance for PD: Classes are based on the Dance for PD (Parkinson’s Disease) program developed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and Brooklyn Parkinson Group. They include certified instructors and live music. Sponsored by Seattle Theatre Group, Spectrum Dance Theatre, Evergreen Health, Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, City of Seattle Lifelong Recreation and Des Moines Legacy Foundation. For schedule information, visit Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation.
  • World Dance Party: World Dance Party grew out of an Aging Your Way gathering. It’s designed to get neighbors to interact and to celebrate culture and diversity. Everyone from all backgrounds and ages is welcome.

Museum Programs

  • here:now
    here-now-frye-museum

    Photo courtesy of Frye Museum—see AgeWise King County, April 2012.

    (Frye Art Museum): Arts-engagement program for individuals living with dementia—and their care partners—to enjoy a creative and relaxing afternoon together.

  • Seattle Art Museum Downtown: Free days plus senior discount.
  • Seattle Asian Art Museum: Free days plus senior discount.

Music

  • Seattle Festival Orchestra: Multi-generational orchestra. Formerly called the Musicians Emeritus Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Mayor Wes Uhlman helped to found this orchestra in the 1970s.

Visual Arts

  • Elderwise Outreach Program: Elderwise takes elements of its visual arts program to other facilities serving elders.
  • Path with Art: Nonprofit dedicated to providing adults recovering from homelessness and those “on the margins” the opportunity to engage in the creative process as a unique means to improve and rebuild their lives.
  • Seniors Creating Art: Offers art classes in different mediums, taught by professional art instructors to participants in community centers, senior centers, and other facilities that wish to host an eight-week long art program.

Research

Resources

Respect and social inclusion

An age-friendly community promotes respect, inclusion, and cooperation among people of all ages and abilities. Aging and Disability Services works to reduce ageism and ableism through online communications such as:

Please visit our Disability Etiquette & Communications webpage for tips on communicating with and about people with disabilities.

Civic participation and employment

An age-friendly community encourages economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for meaningful work—paid and volunteer.

Volunteering

Following are a variety of promising civic and social engagement opportunities for older residents of Seattle and King County.

Referrals and Coordination

Volunteer Programs Supporting Older Adults & Individuals with Disabilities

Boards and Commissions

Every city and town in King County has a variety of boards and commissions whose members are appointed. Following are links to boards and commissions information within a variety of jurisdictions: King County | Auburn | Bellevue | Bothell | Burien | Des Moines | Enumclaw | Federal Way | Issaquah | Kenmore | Kent | Kirkland | Maple Valley | Mercer Island | Redmond | Renton | Sammamish | SeaTac | Seattle | Shoreline

Note: To recommend a volunteer program for older adults, e-mail information (including an online link) to ADS communications manager Irene Stewart.

Employment

If you or someone you know is age 55 or older, visit the following links for information about job search supports and services:

Resources

Can you afford to grow old?

Aging and Disability Services (ADS) promotes financial empowerment and economic self-sufficiency for King County residents of all ages.

In 2011, ADS participated in development of the Elder Economic Security Standard Index for Washington (“Elder Index”), which measured the income that Washington’s seniors needed to maintain independence and meet basic living expenses.

The Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging (UMass Boston Gerontology Institute) has since published Living Below the Line: Economic Insecurity and Older Americans Insecurity in the States 2016, which summarizes what the Elder Index looks like across the states. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, UMass Boston, and National Council on Aging also provide an online tool for searching the current Elder Index.

elder-indexThe total monthly Elder Index is the cost to live a reasonable quality of life in a specific geographic area without having to choose between necessary expenditures. Put simply, it details how much income an older adult needs for self-sufficiency in Seattle and King County.

Social Security is the sole source of income for one in five retired older adults in Washington, the majority of whom are women. In 2009, about eight percent of the state’s older adults lived at or below the federal poverty level, and another 17 percent were at or below 150 percent of the poverty threshold. Many older adults who are not poor as defined by the official poverty level are still unable to meet their basic needs.

Younger residents who do not yet collect Social Security will benefit from using The Self Sufficiency Calculator for Washington State to determine earnings needed to meet expenses in a specific geographic area.

Communication and information

An age-friendly community encourages access resources, benefits, and services for all ages and abilities. Resources include:

Community and health services

An age-friendly community promotes community and health services that support healthy aging. For information about Aging and Disability Services’ work in this area, visit the following pages on this website:

Click on the headings above for more information. For free, confidential access to aging network services in Seattle-King County, contact Community Living Connections.