By Vincent Lim
María Aranda, executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, gave expert testimony before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors during one of its standing meetings, as the board discussed approving a motion to bring about systemic change to create a more age-friendly Los Angeles.
Aranda, an associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years of professional experience, spoke at a Feb. 5 meeting using her research and experiences working with older adults and their families in Los Angeles.
“Most adults and older adults living in the region are stay-put people—meaning they want to stay in this region, retire here,” Aranda said. “They’re not going anywhere else. They plan to retire along with family, friends and loved ones in this community.”
The motion, which was approved by the board at the meeting, starts the process of exploring the feasibility of creating a stand-alone county department dedicated solely to serving Los Angeles’ already large and rapidly growing older adult population.
The L.A. region is home to 1 in 4 of all of California’s older adults, and this population is projected to double between 2010 and 2030 from roughly 1.8 million to nearly 3.6 million.
“The population of our older adults is skyrocketing,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who co-sponsored the motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “I say ‘our’ because I’m in that group.”
The motion’s goal is to bring together services provided by the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County into one entity. The federal government, through the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), currently provides funding for older adult services to both the city and the county separately. Los Angeles is the only region in the state with two separate jurisdictions for AAA funding.
This can sometimes lead to difficulties for L.A. residents because the city and county may not offer the same types of services, and eligibility requirements may be different. There are also logistical challenges with referrals.