Are you Considering to Retire in San Diego?

March 27, 2013

Endless beaches, year-round wonderful weather, close proximity to the desert and mountains, a rich and diverse culture – San Diego has plenty of exciting activities to offer for an engaging lifestyle during retirement.

San Diego residents benefit from excellent health care and medical research facilities. UC San Diego Medical Center is ranked 37th in the nation for geriatric care.  (The full US News List for Geriatric Care has over 1,500 hospitals listed.)

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But amazing weather, casual beach living and excellent medical care are not enough to make San Diego a top destination for retirement. In fact, San Diego is one of the top 10 worst cities to retire.

“What makes it difficult to retire in the San Diego metro area are the high housing costs. People age 60 and older spend a median of over $1,000 per month on rent and $1,971 monthly on their mortgages, although costs drop to $436 monthly for seniors who have paid off their houses.”

While some retirees have the luxury to choose where to spend their non-working years, Baby Boomers that already live in San Diego may not have that choice and are bound to struggle with the high cost of living. Deep family roots and local investments may make it hard to pack up and settle elsewhere.

The 60+ population in San Diego is projected to increase from 531,980 today to 929,766 in 2030. This 75% increase compared to a 62% increase nationally (from 57 million to 92 million) will impact life in San Diego and the work of Senior Community Centers on many levels.  By 2030, 25% of the population will be over 60 years of age with an average life expectancy of 83 years.

Wherever you choose to spend your retirement, are you prepared for 20+ years without a set salary?  While Congress is still taking too much time to handle our aging population, it’s never too early for you to start planning. (Here is a good retirement planning guide from the US Department of Labor.)

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Call to Action: Contact Congress to Exempt Senior Nutrition Programs from Sequestration

March 13, 2013

Please take a moment and contact your congressional representatives to let them know how important senior nutrition programs are – not only for the seniors we serve, but also for the community as a whole. Find out more in the video below:

Call, write, email, tweet and Facebook our congressional delegation and U.S. Senators and tell them to end the partisan games and get to work. Here is a complete Advocacy Toolkit with all the contact information you need! It is time for us to stop putting up with the dysfunction that passes for leadership and demand that politicians come together for the good of our nation. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:

1) CLICK ON YOUR REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME  

(Not sure who your rep is? Find out here!)

United States Senate Representatives

Senator Barbara Boxer (D); Ph: 619-239-3884

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D); Ph: 619-231-9712

United States House Representatives

49th District: Rep. Darrell Issa (R); Ph: (760) 599-5000

50th District: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R); Ph: (619) 448-5201

51st District: Rep. Juan Vargas (D); Ph: (619) 422-5963

52nd District: Rep. Scott Peters (D); Ph: (858) 455-5550

53rd District: Rep. Susan Davis (D); Ph: (619) 280-5353

2) COPY AND PASTE THE MESSAGE BELOW INTO THE EMAIL OR WEBFORM THAT OPENS AUTOMATICALLY:

Dear [Senator/Representative],

I am urging you to protect senior nutrition programs from the sequester ordered on March 1.  Sequestration will eliminate over 100,000 meals for seniors in San Diego and 4 million meals nationwide. The impact of the sequester could be far greater than lack of nutritious meals for a vulnerable population who is often more isolated and in the greatest economic or social need.  Frequently, the meal that is provided through senior nutrition programs is their only guaranteed source of nutrition each day.

The longer term impact of these cuts could be that some of these older adults will end up in hospitals and or nursing homes due to health issues related to the failure to maintain a proper diet.  This, in turn, will add significant costs to Medicare and Medicaid at a time when efforts are being made to reduce these costs. We should be investing in these valuable nutrition programs as a means to avoid increasing federal expenditures, not cutting back on them when they are needed most.

We hope you will insist to exempt senior nutrition programs from sequester to avert a human tragedy which will befall some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.  Thank you for your consideration and support.

Sincerely,

3) SEND YOUR EMAIL & TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME

Senior Community Centers will also hold a Media Event on Thursday, March 14, 2013 to showcase how San Diego Seniors stand Against Sequestration.


Impending Storm Calls for Bipartisan Leadership

January 24, 2013

Welcome to the new year as we continue our quest to put Seniors First. In recent months, we have all been so wrapped up in the struggling economy and now the slippery slope of the fiscal cliff that we have failed to pay attention to another looming storm on the horizon – the silver tsunami.

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Baby boomers (people born between the years 1946 and 1964) began turning 65 in 2011. In fact, 10,000 people turn 65 every day now. In 2000, there were 35 million senior citizens in this country. By 2030, there will be 72 million, which will represent 20 percent of the U.S. population. Without services and support in place, the long-term implications of the aging baby-boom population are daunting. […]

A bill was introduced a few months ago to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Unfortunately, his bill – while excellent – received little attention and even less support from his colleagues in the U.S. Senate. In the House of Representatives, not one hearing has been held or piece of legislation been introduced. […]

There is no time like the present to get something done. With the ever-increasing senior population, the OAA is needed now more than ever. Nine million seniors currently rely on the OAA-funded programs for vital, life-sustaining needs. The program also saves taxpayer dollars by reducing health care expenditures, the number of nursing home placements and other expensive long-term care facilities. In fact, the programs require a relatively modest level of assistance (about 0.02 percent of federal discretionary spending), but often make the difference between healthy independent living and costly assisted living, nursing home placements or expensive hospital stays. […]

Call, write, email, tweet and Facebook our congressional delegation and U.S. senators and tell them to end the partisan games and get to work. There are thousands of acres of common ground when it comes to the OAA and helping vulnerable seniors. Let’s show our support for the older adults in our lives, be it grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts or uncles, and make our voices heard.

~The above material first appeared in the U-T San Diego on January 10, 2013 and the full article can be found here


Photo Friday: Money Matters with George Chamberlain

February 3, 2012

Filming my segment for Money Matters with George Chamberlin airing 6:30pm on Saturday.


Let’s Start the Conversation

February 2, 2012

The last few months I’ve spent time presenting to civic-minded groups, groups like Southeast San Diego Rotary and San Diego Coastal Rotary, on the “graying of America” and the resulting aging policy implications.   The number of seniors will double in the United States by 2030 to more than 80 million, including 700,000 here in San Diego.  As a community and a country, we have an opportunity to prepare properly for this seismic demographic shift.

There are major issues like social security and Medicare that need fixing, but what about:

  • Our workforce. As our population ages, so does the work-force. The first round of Baby Boomers began reaching the traditional retirement age of 65 last year.  Employers will need to look at retaining older workers through flexible schedules or job-sharing.  We can’t afford to have large number of workers retire because there won’t be enough people to take their place; and we’ll need folks to continue paying into social security.
  • Housing/Development. Nearly 42 percent of older adults do not have enough income to meet basic needs, including housing.* The loss of redevelopment funding will have a chilling effect on the development of new affordable housing in California.  No demographic will be more impacted that low-income seniors.   New housing policies and funding sources must be identified to stimulate affordable housing construction to meet the demand.
  • Transportation. It is no surprise that as we age, so does our dependence on transportation. For those seniors who either don’t or      can’t drive, public transit is often their only means to get to doctors appointments, social outings or to eat at congregate meal sites, like the Gary and Mary West Senior Center. This means investing in public transit innovation that will meet the needs of an aging population.

We have the opportunity right now to begin addressing these issues.  The alternative is to simply wait until aging issues become crises and deal with them in panic mode — a really poor way to create significant public policy.

 

*according to Elder Index. Read more about the Elder Economic Security on Senior Community Centers website www.servingseniors.org


Senator Introduces Bill to Protect Senior Nutrition Programs

January 27, 2012

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has formally introduced the Older Americans Act reauthorization bill, which affects senior nutrition programs like ours. It includes all of the key policy points  that we have been advocating through NANASP. This includes maintaining separate funding streams for congregate and home delivered meals and limiting the authority of local government to transfer money out of nutrition to back-fill administrative positions.

Senator Sanders’ speech was spot-on and highlighted the critical need for senior nutrition programs. Here’s an excerpt:

Not only is it the right and moral thing to do to keep seniors in this country from going hungry, in the long run, we save money by keeping them healthy.

Listen to the full speech below.


Ruling on Redevelopment Jeopardizes Successful Programs

January 5, 2012

One of Senior Community Centers’ programs that I am most proud of is our Transitional Housing Program (THP) for homeless seniors.  It utilizes a “housing first” model which means we transition seniors directly from the streets into a safe housing situation with intensive case management.   We house 35 seniors in a downtown single-room occupancy (SRO) hotel and we have two assisted living units for seniors too frail — mentally and/or physically – to live on their own even with support.

But to truly understand what it means to be a senior and homeless requires the story of real people.  A few months ago I met a delightful couple named Bill and Sonia who recently celebrated more than 50 years of marriage.  Sonia at 84 is a beautiful woman with a “dancer’s body” that she honed as a fabled Radio City Music Hall Rockette in her youth.  91-year-old Bill still has a robust physique earned from decades as a general contractor.

But outward appearances can be deceiving.   Bill and Sonia had been homeless three months the day I met them.

They hadn’t had a real meal in two weeks, surviving on crackers and candy bars while sleeping in their car, which Bill moved frequently to avoid being rousted by the police.   A Senior Community Centers’ social worker discovered them earlier that morning while participating in a count of homeless in downtown San Diego.  A fire had destroyed their apartment leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their back and a car.

The lack of proper food had worsened Sonia’s dementia, leaving her confused and very weak.  Our kitchen immediately prepared two hot meals with extra portions that were devoured with an intensity magnified by starvation.  Bill, tears streaming down his face, hugged me and said, “I’m supposed to take care of Sonia and I couldn’t even feed her. Thank you.”

Something you should know about this vital program is that the housing units are funded through Redevelopment funds provided via the Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC).  You may have seen the news reports about the California Supreme Court decision that eliminates Redevelopment Agencies like CCDC and the funding for programs like THP. 

This ruling, absent some serious intervention from the City of San Diego, could very well be the death knell for this highly successful program.  Senior Community Centers is preparing to battle with every ounce of our wits, abilities and muscle to ensure that this program doesn’t go away.  Please check back in this space periodically to see how you can help in this effort.


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