By Elizabeth Wood West
Last fall, Douglas County and the Partnership of Douglas County Governments (PDCG) launched a survey and listening tours as part of its Douglas County Senior Initiative (DCSI). The purpose was to collect input from senior citizens and service providers in Douglas County to determine the needs of the elderly, if and/or how those needs are being met, and to consider effective communication tools for resources and programs between community leaders and citizens.
PDCG is a collaborative group of local governments, towns, and districts, and includes the City of Castle Pines, the Town of Castle Rock, Douglas County, Douglas County Libraries, the Douglas County School District, the Highlands Ranch Metro District, the Town of Larkspur, the City of Lone Tree, and the Town of Parker. Douglas County and PDCG established the DCSI in 2012 to address the needs of a fast-growing demographic – people age 60 and older - which is predicted to be almost 25 percent of Douglas County’s population by 2030.
A total of 648 surveys were collected; 75 percent of the respondents were between the ages of 56 and 75; of that percentage, 64 percent were women and 36 percent were men. Approximately 38 percent of the respondents were from the Castle Pines and Castle Rock community. Four strategic areas were identified: Community planning and housing; access/transportation/economic development; safety and security; and community connections.
Survey respondents said that the most available and easily accessed resources are for law enforcement, “walk-able” neighborhoods, recreation/fitness, community events, and social activities. They also said the least available and inaccessible resources are for affordable transportation, employment, quality and affordable in-home services, and affordable housing. More than 75 percent of respondents indicated that they do not think local government communicates frequently enough regarding issues relating to people age 60 and older.
Sixty-eight service providers participated in DCSI’s survey and came up with nearly identical results regarding the least available and inaccessible resources: Accessible/affordable transportation options and housing, and quality affordable in-home services. They also noted a gap in money management services, legal assistance, and mental health services.
The DCSI’s recommendations include sharing the survey results with the PDCG members for consideration and possible incorporation into public policy decisions; developing a website with information and resources for seniors and their families; organizing a group of service providers identified as influential leaders from the survey for networking and partnership opportunities; and working with established groups to address housing and transportation needs.
For further information, contact Valerie Robson at 303-814-4374 or by e-mail.