The Age Well Community Council hosted a virtual conference alongside Danbury-area community partners and legislators to discuss the council’s progress, new initiatives, and crucial findings impacting the aging community. The Council–which focuses on providing Danbury residents the opportunity to age in ways that are relevant, healthy, and meaningful to individuals, cultures, and the larger community–has refined its 2022 focus on social connectedness, food security, and freedom from scams or financial exploitation.
Data covered during the meeting included social, financial, health, and housing indicators relevant to nearly 20 percent of Danbury residents aged 60 and over. Findings were provided by the 2021 Connecticut Healthy Aging Data Report which was funded by Tufts Health Plan Foundation with research led by the Gerontology Institute of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
The Council expressed the need for awareness regarding the obstacles that the aging community continues to face throughout the pandemic. Sherry Ostrout, Director of Government Initiatives for Connecticut Community Care stated, “there are significant racial disparities of income, home ownership, the poverty level, and health care access.”
According to the report, 8.2% of the Danbury community aged 65 and over lived below the poverty line in the last year with larger numbers facing barriers to essential services and care. Research on the wellness and overall nutrition of this group revealed that around 24% of the population has poor access to supermarkets, leading to more than 8% of the group expressing stress in relation to their ability to buy food, and over 80% being clinically diagnosed with high cholesterol and 27% with obesity.
“We recognize that food insecurity is a pressing issue for older adults in our community, and one that we must continue to tackle,” said Casey Levene, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Western Connecticut. “In Honor of Dr. Peter Buck’s passing, the United Way of Western Connecticut recently released grant funding to assist food pantries and other providers looking to address food insecurity for adults 60 years and older living in Danbury.”
Leaders from the Danbury community in attendance included State Senator Julie Kushner, Mayor Dean Esposito, Council Chair Vinny DiGilio, Representatives Pat Callahan and Ken Gucker, along with other council members and state officials looking to support and understand the push for legislative action.
With support from The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Inc., the Age Well Community Council was formed in 2015. Since its inception, the Council has grown to include more than twenty members representing nonprofits, foundations, and City of Danbury officials. United Way of Western Connecticut serves as the backbone entity for the council.
For more information on joining the Age Well Community Council, please contact Casey Levene, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Western Connecticut, at email@example.com.