Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Alachua County United States of America
Excerpts from Adopted Alachua County Comprehensive Plan: 2011-2030
COMMUNITY HEALTH ELEMENT
PRESERVE THE HEALTH OF ALACHUA COUNTY RESIDENTS BY FACILITATING HEALTH CARE DELIVERY, IMPROVING THE LIVABILITY OF THE COMMUNITY, AND PROVIDING ALL ALACHUA COUNTY RESIDENTS OPPORTUNITIES FOR ACTIVE LIVING.
Policy 1.1.6 The Future Land Use Element shall include provisions in land use categories for mixed uses to allow co-location for nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes for special needs population in proximity to health services.
Policy 1.1.7 Alachua County and community based health care providers shall pursue grant funding to ensure evidence-based health promotion, and chronic disease self-management programs are carried out at the community level through schools, senior centers, nutrition programs, senior housing projects, faith-based groups, and other community based health care providers.
Policy 1.2.3 Develop and encourage volunteer opportunities in community projects that promote community health. Examples of such programs include creek and lake clean-ups, walk-to-school groups, and helpers for the elderly or disabled.
Policy 1.2.5 Promote a healthy community by providing for Aging in Place in residential development designs by allowing a mix of housing types and housing units that take into account visitability criteria and encourage Universal Design.
In addition to what is included in the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan, the City of Gainesville in Alachua County has funded a program for seniors that allows them to receive Uber trips at a lower price or no cost, called “Freedom in Motion.” With a co-pay from as little as $0 to as high as $5, seniors who are over the age of 60 can participate in the program. They have to schedule to go through an application process at the local Senior Center. Eligible seniors can find an Uber vehicle to pick them up any time of the day or night. A rider can travel to any location as part of the program and vehicles will be able to accommodate fold-up walkers and wheelchairs. As for seniors who don’t have access to the Uber app on their phones, Assurance Wireless helps low-income participants with a smartphone.
The program, which began in 2015, is a collaboration of The City of Gainesville, Eldercare of Alachua County and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce. It was originally a six month pilot and has now been funded each year. The budget set for Freedom in Motion Uber rides is $36,000. The hope is for the future to continue and possibly expand on this program.
After the 2016 elections we saw a desire by many seniors in the community to have access to civics education. Requests for an ongoing class to meet and cover issues such as; how government works, to understand current issues in the community and who can solve them, to engage in meaningful debate, and to encourage voting. The idea started with the goal of meeting that need in the community. After the huge success of these classes over 2017 and into 2018, it was decided by the group to focus the content on how to age well and plan ahead. This created another new community-wide educational initiative, “The Aging Well Series.” The Aging Well Series is a collaboration between multiple community organizations and will focus on key aspects of health, finance, advanced planning, among other topics. After the initial need for civics education was addressed participants identified these new topics as a need in the community. They meet weekly with attendance from 70-120 a week and it brings together several of Gainesville’s most knowledgeable senior care industry experts to offer resources and tips to help participants navigate the aging journey. These weekly classes give seniors in the community a place to have good discussion and learn new material thereby helping with community engagement and preventing social isolation.