Laura Newland, executive director, DC Office of Aging and Community Living

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017! It was great to see so many of you last month at the Mayor’s Annual Senior Holiday Celebration. I hope everyone got some much needed rest over the holidays because it’s a brand new year and we have a lot of work to do!

You may have heard me say that in order for the Office on Aging to be the best in its class, we need your input. Last year, we asked you all to participate in our needs assessment study. I want to thank all of you who were willing to share your experiences with us. Your feedback is helping us shape our vision for an age-friendly D.C. and how DCOA can better meet you where you are.

One of the biggest themes that came out of the assessment was seniors want more input on programs and the services they receive. This is something we knew, but it’s reaffirming to have the data to back it up.

Over the past year, I’ve really focused on listening more. I experimented with a new town hall format where seniors had the opportunity to present to me. The town halls are a great forum for us to connect with you in the community and this year we will continue to focus on more dialogue and more opportunities for you to lead the conversation. Check out our website at or give us a call at 202-724-5626 to find out when the next town hall will be in your ward.

The needs assessment also highlighted a concern shared by so many seniors in our community — the risk of falls and other accidents. In fact, it was a top concern among all seniors surveyed. We know that healthy living and regular physical activity can help reduce falls risks as well as being aware of physical hazards throughout your home and community. But there are so many more factors that contribute to falls, both individual and environmental.

Last year, we held falls prevention workshops in all eight wards, and we plan to build on this in the coming year. Mayor Muriel Bowser has been hard at work reducing hazards in the community through the Vision Zero initiative, which seeks to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities by making the city’s streets and sidewalks safer for all commuters. Continue to engage with us and keep us informed about the risks in your community, and let us know how we can work together to help keep you safe in your homes and in your neighborhood.

There was also some encouraging news — seniors in the District want to engage more with the Office on Aging! I take this as a compliment because I thought by now you’d be tired of hearing from me! We know we need to do a better job getting the information you need to support you in taking charge of your long-term goals. My External Affairs team has been hard at work in coming up with new and innovative ways to connect with you in the community to keep you engaged and informed. We want to make sure that we are amplifying your voices so that government, community organizations, and service providers continue to work together to support healthy aging in D.C.

I invite you to review the needs assessment available on our website at and share your thoughts with us. Do the results reflect your personal experience? What ideas do you have for us as we continue to move towards an age-friendly D.C. for all residents? You can email your feedback or call us at 202-724-5626.

I’m excited for our future and looking forward to working with you to make D.C. the best place in the world to age!

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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