How to Help Improve Senior Services in DC

Fill Out This DCOA Survey by Sept. 8

DC’s elderly residents in need of safer sidewalks or more access to senior services or group activities in the City have until Sept. 8 to fill out a survey to help the DC Office of Aging (DCOA) allocate future investments. The deadline was extended from Aug. 30.

Any DC seniors over 60 or a caregiver for someone over 60 can fill out the form in about 15 minutes online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/DCOA-Seniors. With input from community members, the DCOA and George Washington Center for Aging, Health and Humanities hopes to fill gaps in services for anyone in need.

And since the funding for seniors through the DCOA has remained stagnant for about 10 years, the survey results may help the GW team recommend more cost-effective ways to help.

The team also wants to evidence-based research to determine how best to meet the needs of the community’s elderly, said Dr. Beverly Lunsford, a principal investigator at the Geriatric Education Center Consortium.

“We want a broader idea of things we’re not even thinking about,” Lunsford said. “Things that could be a little more innovative.”

The survey team has received about 500 survey responses back, but hope to get at least 1,000. While medical care networks and local DC providers or senior centers can alert their patients to the survey, the team wants to reach those outliers in underserved communities, too, Lunsford said. Since those seniors might not come to any services or take part in activities, the team wants to know what services they can recommend DCOA invest in to get them involved.

Services fall into two main categories of need, Lunsford said: in-home or homebound care, and mobile or activity-based care. People often don’t consider funding activities like senior yoga or swim activities as valuable, but preventative measures can help protect the elderly residents and city from having to spend money on more serious care-based services later.

This includes finding funds to repair dilapidated sidewalks that can easily trip up someone walking on the uneven surface.

“If you’re not putting money into yoga and swimming classes and sidewalks, once a senior falls, it can create a cascade of events,” Lunsford said. “They frequently end up disabled over time.”

Exercise programs help seniors eat healthier, encourages them to get out and socialize to prevent depression, and can keep their bodies fit to fight off injury or illness, she said. In the end, this prevention can save both lives and money in healthcare costs.  


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