Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Multnomah County United States of America
Multnomah County is the smallest geographically (466 square miles) but most populous of Oregon’s 36 counties, with Portland, the state’s largest city, as its county seat, but including rural areas as well, such as parts of Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge. The County provides health and human services, public safety, libraries, and other community services to about 748,000 residents. The Aging, Disability and Veterans Services Division (ADVS) serves older adults (those aged 60+), people with disabilities age 18 and older, and veterans. Staff identify resources that will allow these populations to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Additional ADVS services include: a 24-hour helpline that serves as the “front door” to all resources; identification and investigation of possible abuse; guardianship services for people who are unable to make decisions for themselves; licensing and monitoring of adult care homes, which provide housing and other services in small, family-type settings; public libraries, and coordination of services with Seniors Centers and other community partners to provide outreach to ethnic minority populations.
Multnomah County Commissioners approved joining the WHO Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in October, 2014, and the County became a member in 2015. Multnomah County has begun assessing its age friendliness, involving older adults in many of the efforts being undertaken. Volunteers from AARP Oregon and Elders in Action are engaged in advocacy and training. Two Aging Forums were conducted by Multnomah County’s Office of Citizen Involvement in March, 2015, to provide timely and valuable feedback to County Commissioners and policy makers regarding issues that relate to building and sustaining age-friendly infrastructure. Older adults have participated, as well, in other events and presentations such as an October, 2015, conference geared to community members covering various aspects of age-friendly living.
Multnomah County Commissioners and their staff have met with leaders from the ADVS, faculty from Portland State University’s Institute on Aging – the backbone organization aimed at facilitating collective impact toward the goal of furthering age friendliness – and community partners AARP Oregon and Elders in Action to develop the initiative. Initial funding was provided by ADVS to help coordinate the project, including preparation for developing an Action Plan for an Age-Friendly Multnomah County building on the work of the Age-Friendly Portland initiative. Collaborative subcommittees are meeting around five initial domain areas with thought leaders and elders from various sectors and jurisdictions. Guidance for the project is being provided by Portland’s age-friendly advisory council, which has been expanded to include the Multnomah County initiative and renamed the Age-Friendly Portland and Multnomah County Advisory Council.