JOHNSON COUNTY—Through the work of dedicated volunteers, older Americans in Johnson County can depend on the advice and assistance they need as they navigate the road to a safe, comfortable retirement.
May has been designated Older Americans Month and the staff of The Johnson County Livable Community for Successful Aging is ready. Activities are planned to honor older Americans, along with plans to launch a new website that will offer a comprehensive package of information valuable to seniors.
The Livable Community for Successful Aging is a member of the Heritage Area Johnson County Task Force on Aging, according to Eve Casserly, secretary and newsletter editor of the group’s policy board.
In 2002, Casserly conducted a forum on how to go about meeting the needs of seniors. The speakers at the forum included the Chair of the Johnson County Task Force on Aging, The City Manager of Iowa City, and the Head of United Way.
“It was then that the livable community concept started,” said Casserly.
In 2004, a questionnaire was sent to people in Johnson County over 60 years of age in order to collect data on the major concerns of seniors.
According to Bob Welsh, current Policy Board chair, 2000 surveys were sent out; 500 in the area of housing, 500 in the area of health, 500 in the area of transportation, and 500 in the area of successful aging. The last category included questions on employment and volunteerism, cultural and leisure activities, and faith based opportunities.
“We got back a great survey,” said Welsh. “A lot of this is on the new website.”
In 2007, the name of the group was changed from The Johnson County Consortium on Successful Aging to the presently named Johnson County Livable Community For Successful Aging. Additionally, a policy board was appointed to oversee and administrate activities.
Currently, activities are scheduled for the upcoming Older Americans Month in May.
“This is the 47th annual celebration,” said Casserly.
This year’s theme is “Living Today For a Better Tomorrow.”
An example of upcoming events is a special program honoring seniors in the Assembly Room of the Senior Center at 28 S. Linn St. in Iowa City. The date is May 11 at 2:00 p.m. The admission is free, and all ages are welcome, according to Casserly.
A special edition of the newsletter will include events submitted by April 20.
A new website for the Livable Community for Successful Aging is being developed for official introduction on May 4 at 2:00 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library.
Casserly said people can learn what the website is good for, what it entails, how to use it, and how to get listed on it.
“We’ve been working for a long time on this website that is now coming to fruition. It’s a great one,” said Casserly.
All the services listed on the present website at www.livablecommunity.org , such as housing, health and transportation information, and much more, will be included in the new website, according to Welsh.
“A prominent part of the new site will be a category called “What Will Allow Me to Stay in My Home,” he said.
“This website is compiled and researched by the people who use those services, so it’s richer and fuller information,” added Casserly.
Suggestions on how to select an assisted living program, evaluation lists to help weigh the options, plus eligibility as to age, and costs of various facilities will be available on the new website coming on line in May.
According to Welsh, there will be everything you need to know in one place.
Another group organizing activities for Older Americans Month in May is the Senior Advocates Board in Solon.
According to Larry Meister, a board member, the Senior Advocates Board selects a senior of the year each May.
“This will be our fourth year, and these individuals are nominated by members of the community,” Meister said.
The board then makes a selection.
“This is someone who has volunteered and contributed to the Solon community,” he added.
At the second city council meeting in May, the Mayor of Solon reads a proclamation and announces the winner of Senior of the Year, according to Meister.
“They receive a certificate, their picture is taken by The Economist, and then sometime in the next two weeks following that, a feature article on that individual appears in the Solon Economist,” Meister said.
“We do that because we have a lot of people who have really done a lot for this community, and it goes unrecognized,” he added. “Since we’re celebrating Older Americans Month we can just tie it right into that.”