Press Release: SDSCF Announces Results of Inaugural San Diego Senior Centers Assessment

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Posted: August 20, 2019
Category: Press

San Diego’s senior population will skyrocket to nearly one million by the year 2030, a 130 percent increase from 2000, marking an unprecedented demographic shift.

Report identifies challenges and opportunities to improve San Diego senior centers to serve a modern generation of dynamic older adults and focus on their total well-being                  

SAN DIEGO — Aug. 20, 2019 — The recently launched San Diego Seniors Community Foundation aims to support the health and welfare of San Diego County’s older population, and to ensure every senior has someone they can turn to and trust. In alignment with the organization’s mission, the Foundation has released the results of its assessment on San Diego senior centers with analyzed data from the county’s 28 senior centers. It is the first-ever report of this kind conducted in San Diego County.

Key findings of the newly released report include:

  • San Diego County senior centers serve less than 8 percent of the total senior populations in their areas.
  • The vast majority of local senior centers are understaffed, underfunded, and in need of repair.
  • Nearly a quarter of San Diego senior centers have no full-time employees, and 21 out of the county’s 28 centers were built more than 30 years ago.
  • The results highlight a much larger issue—that San Diego is seriously unprepared to deal with the dramatic increase of our senior population.
  • Nationally, only 2 percent of institutional philanthropy (Grantmakers in Aging) is provided to the aging network, and despite the current demographic shift, this percentage has not changed over the last 20 years. Philanthropic funding for this population should be a priority in all our communities.

The assessment was conducted in order to:

  1. Identify the challenges and opportunities that exist in the current senior center environment.
  2. Provide perspective on innovation in senior centers nationally as a standard to strive for.
  3. Draw relevant conclusions and recommendations to improve the senior centers within our region.
  4. Serve as a catalyst to spur investment (both municipal and philanthropic) in infrastructure that will prepare San Diego for the coming wave of seniors.

“The objective of this report is to call out and inspire community leaders, politicians and philanthropists to take action now and create solutions to improve and enrich the lives of San Diego’s older adults,” says Bob Kelly, president and CEO of the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation.

The Foundation envisions a world where no senior is alone, and every older adult has access to the resources and support to thrive.

San Diego Seniors Community Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to improving the quality of life for local seniors. It is the only community foundation and the first-of-its-kind solely dedicated to seniors in the U.S. The mission of San Diego Seniors Community Foundation is to transition San Diego seniors from vulnerable to vibrant, through the power of philanthropy, so that every senior has someone they can turn to and trust.

Senior centers in San Diego County are underfunded, understaffed, under-utilized, and are unprepared to deal with this new wave of seniors. Several communities in San Diego even lack a center, including areas like City Heights, Eastlake, El Cajon, Lakeside, and Julian with significant senior populations. San Diego Seniors Community Foundation strives to be a catalyst for change and aims to be a vital resource and partner to local centers, helping develop innovative solutions to their most pressing challenges. The Foundation envisions a future where senior centers are viewed as necessary infrastructure to support seniors’ physical, mental, and financial health. Places that will help older adults remain active, socially connected, and engaged in their communities.

San Diego’s senior population is rising, but the community is not ready for change.

In San Diego County, there are more than 468,071 people over the age of 65, representing almost 14 percent of the County’s total population of 3.3 million. (U.S. Census Bureau). By the year 2030, San Diego’s population of adults age 60 and older will skyrocket to nearly 1 million. Age-related trends also predict seniors will soon outnumber children and their primary caregivers, yet our community is unprepared to provide these seniors with the care and services they need the most.

“This influx will strain the already fragile network of existing services for seniors, increasing the risk of social isolation and many other concerns,” says Ted Chan, board chairman, San Diego Seniors Community Foundation. “Society is not ready to deal with the reality that the national and local infrastructure is inadequate and ill-equipped to effectively serve a burgeoning senior population.”

Although numerous challenges exist and will only continue to grow in intensity as the U.S. undergoes an unprecedented demographic shift, the Foundation is dedicated to being a leader in the enhancement, revitalization and creation of a robust network of senior supports that can meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Assessment results to aid San Diego Seniors Community Foundation’s mission to build stronger community support for the county’s older adults

The Foundation is focused on the building and rebuilding of senior centers throughout San Diego, as well as the design of facilities and programs within those centers to serve seniors in every local community. San Diego Seniors Community Foundation will help provide the financing and foster philanthropic and corporate partnerships to create a network of state-of-the-art senior centers across the county where seniors want to go.

The report, which was funded by the Gary and Mary West Foundation concluded that localized community-based senior centers should be at the core of senior infrastructure development, serving as critical hubs that focus on the total well-being of older adults. All San Diego senior centers should include outreach programs to identify “senior orphans” who are socially isolated and may lack access to needed services. Senior orphans are seniors that lack nearby relatives, never had children, never got married, experienced divorce, or even in some cases, the death of a child. These are elderly men and women who are alone and have no one to care for them as they age. This group is the most vulnerable subset of the aging population, and every senior orphan needs someone they can turn to and trust.

“We are proud to support a foundation that shares our commitment to improving healthcare for the rapidly growing senior population in San Diego and across the nation,” said Shelley Lyford, president and chief executive officer of the Gary and Mary West Foundation. “San Diego can only move forward as a city if charitable giving keeps pace with the urgent needs of our vulnerable seniors. Every investment in our aging population is an investment in our own futures and the future of our community. More civic and private organizations need to get involved to enable successful aging.”

With community support, the Foundation can create a better future for local seniors by building comprehensive centers, increasing senior-related philanthropy, and supporting existing programs and partners—all of which will help senior orphans live independent, fulfilling lives.

To see the full report and an interactive heat map of senior centers in San Diego County, please visit sdscf.org/senior-center-assessment/.

To learn more about how you can help seniors in San Diego, visit: sdscf.org/give.

About San Diego Seniors Community Foundation

The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, established in 2017. Its singular focus is to ensure that no local senior is left without access to the resources and knowledge to thrive. The Foundation was started by Bob Kelly, who served as president and CEO of the San Diego Foundation for 20 years. Kelly envisions a world where seniors are an essential part of our community—where they are active, connected, healthy and engaged for generations to come. To learn more and support, visit sdscf.org or call 619-347-9936. Follow the Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.


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