Arlington County readies for aging population

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By 2030 the number of Arlington residents 65 and older is expected to double and Arlington County officials say they’re trying to get ready.

Last week, the Arlington County Board adopted an “Elder Readiness Plan” that allows county staff to get started on a process that will take 25 years to fully implement.

Their goal is to make it possible for Arlington residents to age in their homes near family and friends, said Odile Saddi, Aging and Disability Services division chief.

Doing that requires expanding transportation services, establishing a volunteer force to aid the elderly, providing low-income health care options, and marking sure residents are aware of the available programs.

There’s no price tag for much of the plan, Saddi said, but two projects already underway will cost the county nearly $2 million in the next year.

An assisted living facility for low-income, disabled seniors and a day center for the same are set to open in 2008. Both are being run by non-profit agencies, but they will receive funding for operations from the county.

An expansion of the Oak Springs nursing home, which will be renamed Arlington Assisted Living, is expected to be finished by 2009 and will have 52 rooms available, up from 38. It will be run by Volunteers for America.

The Walter Reed Adult Day Center, to be run by Easter Seals of Greater Washington, will nearly double the number adult day care spaces in the county adding 30 spaces to the 36 already available at the Madison Adult Daycare Center. It’s expected to open early next year, Saddi said and will cost octogenarians between $85 and $95 a day.

Similar services in the private sector cost at least $100 a day, and go up depending on the needs of the patient, said a spokesman for Sunrise Senior Living, which operates four private assisted living centers in Arlington County.

But “many seniors are very healthy and can stay in their homes with some support, which is what everyone prefers,” and the goal is to keep them Arlington either way, Saddi said.


Arlington Assisted Living

Total cost including renovations and operations, about $8.6 million. Received a $4.8 million federal grant and another $1.7 million grant from Virginia for renovations. Annual operating costs are estimated at $2.1 million. The county will pick up between $1 million and $1.5 million and fees as well as Section 8 rental assistance are covering the rest.

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