October 1 is International Day of Older Persons. The day is intended to celebrate older adults and raise awareness about the opportunities and challenges presented by our aging population. International Day of Older Persons was first designed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1990 in recognition of the world’s growing population of older adults. Contra Costa County is no exception to this trend. According to the most recent United States Census, the population of seniors in Contra Costa County grew from 17.4% in 2010 to 21.5% in 2019. In light of these demographic trends, it’s important to take this opportunity to celebrate the seniors in our community and appreciate all the contributions they make to our lives.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Older Persons is Resilience of Older Persons in a Changing World. With inflation, climate change, Covid-19 and other upheavals continuing to impact the lives of seniors, building resilience is key to ensuring that older adults can weather challenges. Here in Contra Costa County, as the percentage of seniors grew, so did the community’s population of seniors living below the poverty level. The poverty rate for seniors in Contra Costa County increased from 5.7% in 2010 to 6.6% in 2019. In light of this number, it’s more important than ever that we advocate for the rights of our elders and support seniors. At Contra Costa Senior Legal Services, we do this by focusing on those areas of law that most impact a senior’s ability to remain healthy and independent. We help seniors advocate for their right to be free from abuse, preserve their housing, plan for their futures, defend against fraud and debt, and contest SSI matters. This empowers seniors to stand up to the challenges that come their way.
In concert with International Day of Older Persons, the UN also dubbed this decade, 2021-2030, the Decade of Healthy Aging. Healthy aging includes establishing healthy environments for seniors, combatting ageism, and improving healthcare services and long-term access to care. This decade is meant to bring together organizations working to improve the lives of older people and their communities.
At Contra Costa Senior Legal Services, we help seniors age healthfully through our Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) program. AHCDs are documents that express your healthcare wishes. For example, you might use an AHCD to express a wish to receive, or not receive, life-sustaining treatment. In this document, you direct an agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. Everyone should have an AHCD, regardless of age. Call us at (925) 609-7900 to learn more and get your free AHCD.