Bloomington Community VAN Forum
September 17, 2008
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Mark Skeie, VAN Leadership Group Chair
Tom Hyder, VAN Coordinator
Bloomington Civic Plaza
1800 W. Old Shakopee Road
This VAN Forum is co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging, City of Bloomington, Carver County Office on Aging, Dakota County Aging Initiative, NORC Projects of St. Louis Park and Hopkins, and SAIL.
Vital communities have many different names: “communities for all ages,” “elder-friendly communities,” “healthy aging communities,” and “communities for a lifetime.” VAN defines a vital community as a community in which people of all generations work together to find the right balance between meeting individuals’ needs and meeting the needs of the community as a whole.
Beginning in 2004, the Vital Aging Network pioneered an effort to collect a wide range of advice, tools, and models to help communities become vital and supportive of older people as the age of the population increases. VAN recently revised and redesigned this Vital Communities Toolkit and is now ready to share it with the public.
This regional VAN forum includes an introduction to the Vital Aging Network and a review of the Vital Communities Toolkit. The toolkit contains successful models of vital communities from across the state and nation and offers resources, sample assessments, and best practices.
Additionally, the forum will feature a panel of local community leaders showcasing their successes, revealing barriers, and outlining their next steps to improve their community’s involvement with older adults. Participants will have the opportunity to network and share their ideas about creating vital communities in the area where they live.
On Wednesday, September 17, 2008 the Vital Aging Network hosted its first Vital Aging/Vital Communities Forum in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Forum began with a welcome from the Mayor of Bloomington and was followed by presentations about VAN and VAN’s Vital Communities Toolkit. Next, a panel of people leading local aging initiatives in their communities discussed the benefits, barriers, best practices, and next steps in building vital communities. The forum concluded with an opportunity for people join small groups to network and discuss vital communities. Seventy-one people attended the Forum, and the responses below reflect what these attendees perceive as the benefits, barriers, best practices, and next steps needed to create vital communities.
1. Why is it important, i.e. what are the benefits, for communities to be looking at their “vital aging readiness?’
- Tomorrow will be on us sooner than expected.
- Burden will be greater if not acted upon today.
- Communication, connection, caring, creativity.
- Be prepared for people who want to age in place.
- Because things take time to develop so we should start now.
- To help people be willing to accept change.
- Why do it? Because we want to stay in place.
- To save money in the long-term.
- To help plan well for the future; proactive not reactive.
- Biggest issues: Transportation, housing (assisted living at modest prices, nursing for people aging in place).
- Magnet persons of leadership. Power of magnet cannot be totally held back from aloneness to community oneness.
- Harvest synergistic energy of vital community health providers.
- Be proactive versus reactive.
- Don’t re-invent.
2. What barriers do you think exist to developing a vital aging community?
- How people define community.
- Making information available and communicating its availability.
- Bringing groups together who need to be working together.
- Conflicting Issues.
- Funding Demands.
- How can you adapt your home so you can stay?
- Not enough workers to assist the elderly.
- Inertia: People don’t want to do the work that’s needed.
- Unwillingness of older folks to accept help.
- Isolation of older people.
- Failure to educate, motivate, and activate benefits of awareness to all vital aging health needs, priorities, expectations, and perceptions.
- No planning.
3. What next steps are you going to take to implement a vital communities initiative in your area?
- Identified issues will be acted upon.
- Build on newly developed community on aging and partner with county.
- Anticipate future needs, develop programs.
- We’re already doing it.
- Be more proactive in what we do.
- Knowledge – seminars. Health awareness and proactive preparation.
- Lack of volunteering structure – for optimization of time, talent, and tenacity.
- Promote harmony, and harmonic oneness.
- Start talking.
4. Who in your local community would you engage in a vital communities initiative?
- Aging commissions.
- The school system.
- Every ethnic group, age group, organization, transportation, etc.
- No developers until we know what we want.
- Faith communities.
- Senior Housing.
- Staffing services.
- Community education.
- Faith communities.
- Generation “y.”
- Block Nurse Programs.
- Disability Community.
- Boomers themselves – ask what others need.
- Caregivers – identity.
- Universal living – diverse community accessible units, builders/ realtors.
- Be proactive not reactive, collaborate, and cooperate.
5. From today’s presentations and your own knowledge and experience, what are 3 best practices in implementing a vital communities initiative?
- Assessment – think sustainability and universal design.