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Governor's Summit Focuses on Making WA "Age-Friendly"


Monday, September 30, 2013   

SEATTLE - Every Washington resident is getting older by the minute - and what the state could be doing to adapt is the topic of the Governor's Leadership Summit on Aging. Tuesday in Seattle, an invited group of lawmakers and community leaders meets at a "high-level, interactive gathering" to discuss strategies to deal with the "age wave" - the state's changing demographics as baby boomers hit retirement age, whether they're ready or not.

From social services and savings plans to transportation and housing, if there are ways to make Washington more age-friendly, Gov. Jay Inslee said they're worth considering.

"We want to perfect ideas on how we can improve access to living situations. We want to help make sure people are getting good health care. We want to deal with these financial planning issues - and we're looking for ideas on how to help," Inslee said.

Although the Aging Summit is a one-day event, there is a next step for any ideas that come from it. Ingrid McDonald, advocacy director, AARP Washington, said the new Joint Legislative-Executive Committee on Aging and Disability can use them to make recommendations to the legislature.

"It's got eight legislators and four members of the governor's cabinet. That committee will be an opportunity to take up the ideas that come out of this one-day summit and move them farther down the road. So, there's a place where the conversation will continue," McDonald said.

The goal is not for the state to focus only on seniors, but to ease pressure on the state budget as the population ages, McDonald explained, pointing out that making communities more age-friendly will benefit people of all ages.

The governor said his own role models for aging successfully are his mother-in-law, who is now in her 90s, and his father, who is in his 80s.

"He is just a firecracker. He's dealing with sort of a chronic health issue, but because he's got good health care and because he's got people around him - and he's just a tough guy - he's doing great," said Inslee of his dad. "People can do great as long as they've got some decent care and have a support system. So, I say there's good news out there."

The Aging Summit fulfills a promise that Inslee made to AARP when he was running for governor, to host such a gathering. He said he wants to hear ideas from the public, beyond the summit, as well.

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