King County’s senior citizens have a wealth of resources and services they can tap into, but figuring out how to access them can be extremely complicated.
Call here, call there, dot this i, cross this t, it can all be overwhelming, especially to people in crisis.
On Monday, King County announced that South King County Senior Centers and Resources – a partnership between the Auburn and Pacific senior centers and the Federal Way Senior Center food bank– will receive $1.52 million over the next 4½ years to create a “hub” for aging services and provide support, outreach, connection and social engagement for the diverse population of seniors (ages 55 and up) who live here.
The SKCSCR was one of 28 senior centers throughout the region that competed for a share of the total $19.4 million provided by the 2017. voter-approved, expanded Veterans, Seniors and Human Services levy, which for the first time, includes dollars dedicated specifically to older adults and their caregivers. The centers will use their awards to form 14 hubs for targeted senior services.
The SKCSCR had asked for $2.8 million, but its members are ecstatic to receive $1.5 million.
“We’re a little cautious because we have to figure out how to cut $1.3 million of our plan,” said Radine Lozier, director of the Auburn Senior Activities Center, “so right now, we are looking at all the different figures, and trying to prioritize what we put in the plan.
“Our main focus was to hire people to help our seniors navigate the system, and personally walk people through it so that they get the services that are already available to them that they just can’t figure out how to access,” Lozier said.
But the partnership is also looking at transportation.
“Algona and Pacific don’t have much transportation at all to get seniors to doctors appointments, to get them to the grocery store, to get them anywhere. So, we’re working with Metro, hopefully, to get them transportation so that anywhere between the three centers that make up the hub, people can get transportation to any of those hubs to access the services provided at all three,” Lozier said.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a press release that investments will focus on reaching seniors and their caregivers, who have not traditionally benefited from the existing network of senior centers in the county.
“King County is investing in programs specifically designed to improve the quality of life for our local seniors and their families,” Constantine said. “Thanks to King County voters, we are making healthy aging a priority, and the support we’re providing for these senior centers will significantly increase access to services for older adults throughout the region.”
As the number of adults age 55 and over continues to grow and become increasingly diverse, Constantine said, the county is stepping up to serve the cultural and geographic diversity of seniors and their caregivers, including veterans, service members and their respective families.
Many seniors in the county experience or are at risk of experiencing social isolation because of few social supports, lack of nearby family, and mobility issues that cause them to be home-bound, according to the news release. Seniors in some communities may be at particular risk of isolation, such as individuals who are part of an immigrant community, Native American elders, non- or limited- English speakers, individuals who identify as LGBTQ or seniors in rural areas who may be geographically isolated.
That’s why 13 senior centers will also receive $90,000 each in one-time funding to provide services or invest in minor capital or equipment purchases to better serve older adults in their communities. That brings the total investment to more than $20.6 million.