San Jose Mercury News Opinion: Santa Clara County’s Population is Aging

Santa Clara County Supervisor and champion of The Mature Worker Job Program, Joe Simitian, mentions Peninsula Family Service for its continued program offering. 

As we navigate the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to overlook the importance of support services for our older adults. But it’s a conversation we need to have. Whether it’s health check-ups, assistance with daily tasks or a helping hand when they need it, support services for seniors are vital.

By 2030, more than 400,000 Santa Clara County residents will be age 65 and up, making up one-fifth of the population and outnumbering children for the first time. During my time on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, I’ve pushed for a number of initiatives that support our senior population.

Most recently, I asked that our county assess the needs and capacity of caregivers providing in-home support services to older adults. The report that came back to our board was eye-opening. Not only do we have a massive shortage of caregivers that will quickly get worse if we don’t step up, but there’s not adequate support for the caregivers we already have.

Last year, my colleagues on the board approved my request to support upgrades to the Los Gatos-Saratoga Adult Recreation Center to help Los Gatos continue to be a great age-friendly place.

I’m also proud to have championed the launch of the Reach Your Destination Easily (RYDE) program, which will provide more than 10,000 rides this year to folks age 65 and older in the West Valley and South County. The beauty of RYDE is its simplicity—no bus schedules to negotiate, no ride sharing apps or surge time pricing to figure out. RYDE provides a trustworthy lift to run an errand, see the doctor or get out to socialize for a modest fee, based on need.

Seeing that LGBTQ+ older adults — a sometimes at-risk and underserved community — were facing not only a lack of specialized services but also hardship in finding reliable transportation, I led our county’s partnership with Avenidas (a local senior services nonprofit) to develop the Avenidas Rainbow Collective as a safe space for LGBTQ+ older adults to build connections and access services in their local community. Program participants report feeling less isolated and more engaged.

Another effort I’m proud to have championed is the Mature Worker Job- Coaching Program offered by Peninsula Family Service. Older workers have a lot to offer —skills and work experience, and often an impressive resume — but they often face age discrimination. Every year since 2017, the Mature Worker Program has helped hundreds of Santa Clara County residents —at no cost to them—up their job search game through individual coaching, group workshops and peer support. If you choose to work, we want to make sure you can do that without discrimination. And if working is a necessity, we want to make sure you have the best shot possible at success.

Read the Full Mercury News Article from December 31, 2013

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