‘Now is the time’ for Pierce County conference on aging in place

By 2030 Pierce County will look substantially different than it does today – especially for older adults and individuals with disabilities. How we embrace the future and plan for it will dictate whether the future guides us or we guide the future, according to experts on aging-related issues.

Many of those issues will be addressed March 23 in Lakewood during “Aging into the Future: Pierce County 2020-2030,” a community conversation about what to look for in the coming decade and how to make the best use of emerging services, demographics, technologies and resources.  The conference is intended for seniors, individuals with disabilities, caregivers, families, service providers, business owners, and others. 

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 pm. at the McGavick Conference Center at Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd. SW.  Information, free tickets and accommodation requests are available at www.PierceCountyWA.gov/Future and at 253-798-4600. 

“It’s often said the best time to plan a tree is 20 years ago,” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, manager of Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources, a county government program that is organizing the conference. “Nobody knows the future, but we can and should prepare for it.  Now is the time to start thinking about how to make Pierce County a community to age in place safely, independently and affordably.”

The four-hour conference will feature presentations on eight topics: Aging in place, housing, transportation, long-term healthcare, personal wellness, legislative, threats to independence, and financial security. Each presentation will be followed by surveys of audience members using an instantaneous electronic voting system. Participants will also be able to respond with narrative feedback, suggestions and recommendations.

Van Valkenburg noted that in the coming decade, a larger percentage of county residents will be over the age of 60, and a rapidly growing number will be dealing with physical, emotional and intellectual disabilities. He said the vast majority of these individuals will want to live independently at home while effectively managing their disabilities, chronic conditions, cognitive and physical changes, and other needs. Pressures will grow for many families as education, employment, lifestyle, housing and other competing demands fragment traditional family support systems while resources for in-home care shrink.

Refreshments will be provided.  Attendees are invited to drop off non-perishable donations at the conference for the Nourish Pierce County food banks.