Kathy Black, Ph.D., is an associate professor of social work and gerontology at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Through a partnership with The Patterson Foundation and SCOPE, a community engagement organization, Black conducted research for the Aging with Dignity and Independence Initiative. The initiative, which completed data collection in 2010, uncovered six actionable themes that are essential to aging with dignity and independence in Sarasota County and beyond.
From respect and social inclusion to transportation and mobility, there are real, meaningful ways we can work together to create a better community for people of all ages — especially older adults. Sarasota County is the demographically oldest “large” county in the nation. Why wouldn’t we all take the lead and take steps to make our community a great place for older adults (and really, all people)?
While data collection around the Aging with Dignity and Independence Initiative ended two years ago, the work never stopped there. Just this fall, Sarasota County officials recognized there are many, many meetings happening about aging in our community — most of them with the same passionate participants.
That’s how the Stakeholders in Aging Consortium was born. The consortium, chaired by Ann Ridings, director of guardianship at Lutheran Services of Florida, brings together public, private, formal and informal — all in a way that connects those of us who care about aging issues in our community. The goal? Action.
I recently presented the Aging with Dignity and Independence themes to the group and was met with enthusiasm, especially by professionals in our community.
The consortium is beginning to establish priorities and I’m excited to see how our work together will progress!
Kathy Black may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org