Share Your Ideas for Age-Friendly Communities

The ideas came as quickly as someone could type them on the laptop as community residents in La Mesa shared their visions of an age-friendly community with the County’s Aging & Independence Services.

AIS, part of the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency, hosted the first in a series of seven community gatherings seeking ideas for improving the quality of life for older adults in the region.

“We heard such great feedback from the older adults, and we had students in the room and other members of the community,” said Ellen Schmeding, AIS director. “They really put their heart and soul into giving us the needed input.

“This is the kickoff of our series of sessions and we can see that we are on a roll.” 

Every four years, AIS is required to submit a plan to the California Department of Aging outlining the County’s goals, objectives and strategies for working with older adults. Before submitting the plan, AIS gets input from the older adults and persons with disabilities they serve as well as other interested community members.

“We look out to engage our partners and try to constantly think ahead,” said Schmeding. “What’s coming, what we need to be aware of and what modifications we need to make to be responsive to our community.”

At the La Mesa meeting, residents voiced concerns about several community issues and offered their ideas for improving them.

Several mentioned the difficulty older adults have in doing simple errands such as getting groceries or going to medical appointments. They felt transportation options were adequate in their city, but it’s not always practical to carry large loads of groceries on buses and taking Uber or a taxi to medical appointments can get quite costly.

One suggestion was to see if local grocery stores and a transportation provider could team up and provide a grocery shuttle that ran on a regular schedule with a small fee for riders.

Housing density and affordability also were high on the list of concerns. Residents wanted better ways to connect with volunteer opportunities and other older adults in their community.

County residents can provide input at the remaining six community forums:

  • Friday, Feb. 26, 1 – 2:20 p.m., San Marcos Senior Center, 111 Richmar Ave., San Marcos
  • Monday, Feb. 29, 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., 4th District Senior Resource Center, 570 56th St., San Diego
  • Monday, March 7, 10 – 11:30 a.m., South Chula Vista Library, 389  Orange Ave., Chula Vista
  • Thursday, March 17, 12 – 1:30 p.m., San Diego LGBT Center, 3909 Centre St., San Diego
  • Wednesday, March 30, 1 – 2:30 p.m., Encinitas Senior Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr., Encinitas
  • Wednesday, April 27, 6:30 – 8 p.m., Scripps Ranch Library, San Diego

Spanish translation will be available at the South Chula Vista Library session and is also available upon request at other sites.

Members of the community can also provide input by emailing, leaving a voicemail at (858) 495-5525 or by mailing Aging & Independence Services, ATTN: Sally Jackson, P.O. Box 23217, San Diego, CA 92193.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact