Acommunity’s oldest residents are among its most precious assets. And yet outside of the perennial debate over Social Security and Medicare, many other issues affecting the elderly don’t get the public attention that other causes do. But the priorities are about to shift by necessity.
On Saturday’s Opinion 2 page was a Scottsdale Voice column by Guy Mikkelson, president and CEO of the Foundation for Senior Living. The foundation runs Scottsdale’s only adult day care center, at Granite Reef Road and McDonald Drive.
It had recently announced it was planning to close next month due to insufficient funding. Now, however, it is working with Scottsdale city officials on a plan to move to quarters in the former downtown Senior Center at Drinkwater Boulevard and Second Street.
We agree with Mikkelson’s assessment that as time goes on and our society becomes home to more seniors — by 2025 one-quarter of Arizona’s population will be age 65 or older, he wrote — at current rates the resources available for their care will continue to lag behind the need.
That Mikkelson’s center is Scottsdale’s only one is not confined to this city. The Tribune’s Lindsay Butler discovered that only seven adult day care facilities exist in the East Valley, an area whose present-day population exceeds 1 million. Butler found that Mesa has four and Tempe and Apache Junction each have one. Neither Chandler nor Gilbert have any.
Time is not in abundance for the Scottsdale center and the 35 seniors and their families who utilize their services. Its lease is to expire July 12. Butler reported that city and foundation officials have toured the former senior center, now vacant, and Scottsdale’s Human Services Department director, Connie James, is preparing a proposal for the City Council to consider. If the council approves, the adult day care center could remain open at its current location a while longer while the former senior center is being prepared.
Both the city and the foundation are to be applauded for working toward a solution, a true public-private partnership that we hope will let the private nonprofit foundation operate as it deems appropriate at a new location. While this is welcome news in the short run, this one facility’s plight should be a warning to us that this Valley, this country, will be in need of many more such places for seniors where a dignified, respectful and encouraging environment awaits them. We owe it to them, for as the old adage goes, what they have forgotten, we have yet to learn.