The Monroe County Aging Alliance has become a joint initiative of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. The move formalizes the informal consortium that began a decade ago.
The group members—aging service providers, city of Rochester and Monroe County representatives and funders—have been working together to provide guidance and focus to promote the value and well-being of older adults, officials say.
The initiative will be led by Patricia Campbell and Leanne Rorick as co-directors.
Campbell most recently was senior director at RACF in the community programs department overseeing grantmaking in aging, health and basic needs. Rorick, principal of Leanne Rorick Consulting, is a United Way consultant. She is also a research assistant for Cornell University’s Institute for Translational Research on Aging.
While at RACF, Campbell first convened experts to set an aging agenda for the community. The meetings enable aging services organizations to understand existing systems and structures that impede successful aging. They worked to identify strategies to create a community where people age well, share what they are working on, find opportunities to collaborate, and pinpoint gaps that needed to be addressed, officials say.
These convenings provided a basis for some initiatives including:
■ The city and county’s application to AARP’s Age-Friendly Network in 2019. It began a five-year initiative to move toward a more age-friendly and livable community.
■ An August 2021 Poverty In Later Life report examined poverty among older adults in the city. One in five city residents lives below the official poverty measure; the number of poor older adults in the city is increasing; and the poverty rate is highest for Latinx older adults—twice the rate of Black seniors, the report found.
■ A collaboration of the alliance with county departments and the New York Academy of Medicine in the summer and fall of 2021. Its goal: improving the county’s Health Across All Policies aim—a focus that incorporates improvements in social opportunities such as housing, food access and transportation into positive health results.
■ “Creating a Community for a Lifetime: An Action Plan for an Age-Friendly/Livable Rochester and Monroe County” report, with recommendations to achieve a more age-friendly community. The plan, released in December 2021, was funded in part by the city and county, and was informed by Monroe County older adults, providers and community partners.
Next year, the alliance will join forces with the Gerontological Society of America to lead a Reframing Aging Initiative in Monroe County. The long-term social change endeavor is designed to augment the public’s understanding of aging and the many ways that older adults contribute to society. Officials hope the initiative will serve as a guide to ensure supportive policies and programs for people of all ages in Monroe County.
Through 2024 and beyond, the Monroe County Aging Alliance plans to engage more community partners, including business and government, to act on recommendations and build a more age-friendly community.