An effort to create a better all-around environment for older adults locally is preparing to move from the talking stage to attempting actual changes, but only after an upcoming week of public discussion.
Four forums are planned around Allegheny County from Tuesday to July 18 to present the draft action plan of the Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh initiative. The plan represents nearly two years of work by a network of volunteers trying to create or expand programs and policies that enhance the region for its high proportion of seniors.
The effort is part of a global Age-Friendly Cities program sponsored by the World Health Organization and AARP, with the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County signing on in 2015 to join more than 70 other U.S. communities committed to developing their own plans.
Laura Poskin, a United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania staff member who is among a project team coordinating Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, said the upcoming public meetings in Munhall, Ben Avon, East Liberty and Millvale are designed to get feedback on the draft plan that includes 27 “action items.”
The public comments received could lead to further changes or additions to the plan before it is submitted to AARP and WHO, Ms. Poskin said. Participating communities in the Age-Friendly program commit to a two-year process of developing plans and three years afterward of working to implement recommendations.
The action items that the local group wants to see implemented fall under broad categories labeled as helping seniors with access, connection and innovation.
As examples of those, Ms. Poskin said, meeting the goals could mean creation of more intergenerational programs; better attention to how older pedestrians are challenged at major intersections; greater focus on public spaces where older adults can join in benefits of health and wellness; and promotion of more job training and job search tools for older adults.
Some such efforts are already working well on a small basis but can be adapted for wider use, Ms. Poskin said, citing a program in Lawrenceville that connects longtime, older residents of the community to younger newcomers just moving in. Elsewhere, there are concentrated programs in which young, tech-savvy volunteers assist older adults, but there would be a mission to spread that computer and technology support to seniors throughout the county.
Ms. Poskin said that through a wide range of public input sessions since 2015, more than 80 organizations have been represented in creating the action plan. A project team of volunteers will be charged with trying to implement the recommendations with the help of city and county officials, though no large expenditure of public funds is anticipated.
Anyone interested is invited to attend the forums, which take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on the following dates:
Tuesday, July 11: Carnegie Library of Homestead, 510 E. 10th Ave.
Thursday, July 13: Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, 7501 Church Ave.
Monday, July 17: Kingsley Center, 6435 Frankstown Ave.
Tuesday, July 18: Millvale Moose, 112 E. Sherman St.
More information is also available through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Partnership on Aging’s website, swppa.org.
Gary Rotstein: email@example.com or 412-263-1255.