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

Happy Older Americans Month! We at the D.C. Office on Aging are proud to celebrate how our older residents are redefining aging every day. You’re proving that aging does not mean getting old, it means living your best life every day! Take a look at our community calendar for Older Americans Month celebrations happening throughout the District.

Last month, I had the pleasure to present Mayor Muriel Bowser’s fiscal year 2018 budget, “DC Values in Action, a Roadmap to Inclusive Prosperity,” and the investments made to support seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers.  To view the full testimony, visit

With an increase of nearly 11 percent over this fiscal year, DCOA’s proposed budget will enable the agency to continue to combat isolation, promote wellness, support aging in place, invest wisely, and listen to the community. These are our DC values and I’m proud to say that the Mayor’s budget exemplifies these values in action.

Combating Isolation – The FY 18 budget will ensure seniors and people with disabilities most at risk of isolation have access to social, health, and wellness activities with an additional $459 thousand invested to expand transportation services to Senior Wellness Centers. The budget will also enable us to continue to host events to celebrate District seniors, including the Centenarian Salute, Ms. Senior DC, the Senior Symposium and the Mayor’s Annual Holiday Celebration.

Promoting Wellness – Thanks to the Mayor’s $350 thousand investment towards senior wellness, we will be supporting additional senior activities in Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) sites through the Senior Fit & Well program. We will also be piloting a Virtual Senior Wellness Center in wards that do not currently house brick-and-mortar sites. We are looking forward to working with our community partners, advocates, and providers to develop this model and hope to expand it in all eight wards, after learning what works.

Supporting Aging in Place – We will continue the successful Safe at Home program with $3 million allocated in our baseline budget. Through this program, we are serving nearly 600 residents, installing preventative adaptations such as bathtub cuts, chair lifts, and furniture risers, enabling them to continue living safely in their own homes as they age.  In addition, $300 thousand will be committed to senior villages. We will be looking for input from the community on how we can best support the senior village model as an effective and sustainable community-driven solution for aging in place.

Investing wisely – We will continue to make smart spending decisions and ensure that our local dollars are invested effectively, our programs are meeting the changing needs of our community, and that we are accountable and transparent with our funds. This means that when we make decisions, no matter how small, our decisions are driven by the answer to one question: What’s best for the community we serve?

Listening – Our most important value is listening to the community—not just when decisions need to be made, but every day. How else can we answer the question of what’s best for the community we serve, if we don’t listen? We need seniors and people with disabilities to drive the conversation on what it means to age well in this city. And we need to be adaptable and open to change, when necessary. We will continue advocating on behalf of our community, working closely with our sister agencies to ensure that your voices are amplified and you needs are appropriately addressed.

These are our D.C. values and these are the values that make D.C. the best city in the world to age! We’re proud of the work we’ve done and we’re especially proud of what we can accomplish together with these shared values.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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