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HEALTHY AGING CAMPUS

Marin’s New Modern Health Hub for Older Adults and Their Families

In a culture where aging is often defined by stigma and fear, and support systems are fragmented and difficult to navigate, people are looking for a trusted leader. Whistlestop has been a trusted community partner in Marin for 65 years, and is now broadening its leadership role, partnering with local housing and healthcare providers to develop a “modern health hub” at its new Healthy Aging Campus that supports the social and medical health needs of older adults and provides affordable homes in a central, community-based location.

THE PROBLEM: ISOLATION

Overcoming isolation and loneliness is one of the toughest struggles for many older adults. Studies now show that loneliness is as closely linked to early mortality as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or consuming more than six alcoholic drinks a day and is even worse for longevity than being obese or physically inactive. Research also suggests that those who are isolated are at an increased risk of depression, cognitive decline and dementia. In addition, being lonely in our older years is terrible suffering. Human connection is the central ingredient for quality of life, and the need for connection transcends age. And yet, 16,391 older adults in Marin are living alone. In order to support wellness and longevity for older adults in Marin, we must address isolation and loneliness.

16,391 older adults in Marin are living alone.

THE PROBLEM: HOUSING

The housing shortage is projected to increase as the older adult population continues to climb.

Affordable housing specifically for older adults in Marin is a critical need that must be addressed right now. The housing shortage is projected to increase as the older adult population continues to climb. The recent report, “Older Adult Housing in Marin: Planning for 2030”, estimates that 7,000 of today’s older residents need affordable housing. In Marin, a minimum annual income of $42,813 is necessary to pay for the basics – housing, food, clothing and medical expenses. Of Marin’s approximately 53,000 residents 65 and older, 58% have no retirement income, and the average social security benefit is $22,196 annually.

THE PROBLEM: AN INADEQUATE HEALTHCARE MODEL

54 years ago, when Medicare was enacted, “integrated care” for older adults was a mere concept. But now, thanks to modern medicine, many of us will live into older age. The number of Americans over 85 will more than triple within 30 years. Without a change, Medicare and Medicaid will be inadequate to meet the needs of the aging American population. We are underspending on social and supportive services, which can significantly improve health outcomes for older adults, and with less cost. The lack of social contacts among older adults is estimated to cost Medicare $6.7 billion a year. We must find a way to care for one another more reliably and with fewer burdens on families and society in general.

Without a change, Medicare and Medicaid will be inadequate to meet the needs of the aging American population.

THE SOLUTION: WHISTLESTOP’S HEALTHY AGING CAMPUS

The Healthy Aging Campus will be open to all of Marin’s older adults.

Whistlestop’s new Healthy Aging Campus will be a “modern health hub” that supports the social and medical health needs of older adults along with providing 66 affordable apartment homes in downtown San Rafael within easy walking distance of the county’s transportation hub. The Campus and all of its offerings will be open to all of Marin’s older adults – not only those who live onsite. The Campus will combine desperately needed affordable homes for

older adults with wrap-around healthcare services, vibrant activities, accessible transportation and a myriad of programs designed to improve human connectedness.  Services will address many care areas, including chronic disease management, podiatry, ophthalmology, behavioral health, vaccination, medication management, and other needs including support services that improve independent living in the home.

Eden Housing, the region’s largest nonprofit affordable housing creator, has been carefully selected as Whistlestop’s partner for the Healthy Aging Campus. This is the first project in Marin that features 100% affordable units specifically for older residents. Eden Housing will provide homes to older adults (age 62+), who earn less than 60% of the area median income, at affordable rents ranging from $770 to $1,650/month. Names may be added to the interest list for an apartment home by calling (510) 582-1460.

Whistlestop buses, public bus routes from the transit center, and SMART will provide a life link for all of Marin’s older adults, increasing their mobility and independence and connecting them directly to the community.

TIMELINE

To make the Campus possible Whistlestop engaged in a joint venture with BioMarin to locate the new Healthy Aging Campus onto BioMarin’s recently acquired 999 Third Street property. A joint application was filed with the city of San Rafael’s Planning department in October 2018. Projected year for the new Campus to open is 2021.

Marin’s New Modern Health Hub for Older Adults and Their Families

To find out more about supporting this important community project,
please contact Yvonne Roberts, Chief Donor Relations Officer,
at
HealthyAgingCampus@whistlestop.org