BUELLTON, Calif. – A road map to the growing needs of the aging population in Santa Barbara is underway to meet the demands in the coming years.
The Santa Barbara County Adult & Aging Network (AAN) co-hosted a countywide session at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton with a packed room of leaders in services for the aging and health care.
There are many steps underway locally, but additional funding and resources from the State of California will be needed to complete the plan.
This meeting and the next steps will build upon the California’s Master Plan for Aging (MPA).
AAN Director Barbara Finch with Santa Barbara County Department of Social Services says the COVID crisis magnified the needs for seniors from health care to isolation.
"The issues are much larger than we had imagined," said Finch. "Every day we hear stories of people who have support systems yet they died alone."
Research shows by 2030, one in four people in Santa Barbara County will be age 60 or older. Finch and state leaders say the plan is to "truly transform the experience of aging for everyone who calls Santa Barbara County their home.”
The range of programs targets a long list including caregiver providers and their training, food insecurity and healthy diets, reducing isolation, access and understanding to technology and a "one-care system" to help anyone with a question or need around the clock.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann said some of the components are in place already in the county and there are efforts underway to move the forward as the full master plan comes together. "We're doing housing plans, we're doing recreations plans, we're doing transportation plans, so we have a lot of planning but we haven't specifically looked at seniors and people with disabilities and then combine all those pieces."
She said smaller communities can start to unite their services in anticipation of a master plan process and outreach in the future.
Santa Barbara County Public Health Director Mouhanad Hammami said, "we certainly want to make sure that all of our residents are enjoying health and social health no matter what age they are but specifically our aging population." The programs being designed now in the master plan, he says, will require funding help from the state.
For more information go to the Adult and Aging Network.