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home : current news : current news May 26, 2018

5/2/2018 9:19:00 AM
Making Sisters into an age-friendly community
By Sue Stafford

The need for affordable, convenient transportation and some type of community hub rose to the top of the wish list created by 130 people who gathered last week to discuss creating an age-friendly community in Sisters.

With 27 percent of Sisters in-city residents aged 65 and older, affordable housing for aging adults will continue to be an issue as well. In Central Oregon between 2010-2016, the population of residents 65 and older increased 58 percent, two times the growth rate of all of Oregon.

Months of research by members of the Senior Alliance into issues facing aging residents, and available resources to meet their needs, paid big dividends last Wednesday night as attendees divided into three groups to assess the information and begin to prioritize the most important issues to be addressed.

The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District community hall was a beehive of activity as everyone engaged in sharing their opinions about what is working, and what are the barriers for older residents.

In the built environment, which includes transportation and housing, participants agreed there are plenty of parks, trails, and outdoor spaces but what is missing is affordable rental housing, more centrally located services, and a skilled nursing facility.

Another barrier for seniors is the minimal services for non-drivers. The Council on Aging information and referral specialist for Sisters, Toni Landis, is hoping to establish an informal network of neighbors who drive providing rides for those who


Those who discussed the service environment looked at local healthcare, deciding there are good local providers but access and affordability are issues, particularly if the providers are not taking new Medicare patients. Transportation to medical appointments surfaced as a problem, as did the lack of an urgent-care facility in


There are a number of services available in town but no central hub where information and referral is available, except for Mondays in the SAGE Room at SPRD. How to let people know what's available is an issue. The Senior Alliance has created a double-sided yellow Sisters Country Senior Resource Guide to help fill that gap for now.

Those who discussed the social environment identified that volunteer opportunities abound in Sisters. On May 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at SPRD, there will be a volunteer fair to help link organizations needing volunteers to people willing to be involved.

When talking about employment, civic and social participation, and the issue of social isolation, a number of barriers were identified. Health concerns, such as hearing and vision problems, mobility issues, and chronic illness, can make it difficult for seniors to engage with others outside of their home. Limited income is another restrictive factor, and again, lack of transportation is an issue.

A great deal of enthusiasm was generated by the events of the evening, and now the work begins in earnest to find solutions. Attendees were encouraged to stay engaged in the process. They were also reminded to make their voices heard in the Sisters Country Horizons vision process.

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