By Mayor Allison Silberberg
I was incredibly close to my grandmother, whom we lovingly called Nanoo. I have been blessed to be close to many elders in my family and circle of friends.
One elderly friend once said to me that one of the most difficult and even painful aspects of aging is the plague of loneliness. Here in Alexandria, we are committed to helping seniors stem the tide of loneliness.
I am incredibly proud of all that Alexandria does to be a city for successful “aging in community.” We have outstanding programs for our older residents, ensuring Alexandria remains a place for all ages. Both the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Milken Institute asked me to be a panelist so that other cities could learn about all that we are doing for our seniors.
Our Commission on Aging is an exceptional advocate for policies and laws that ensure our seniors are protected and heard. In addition to speaking out for housing, transportation and other needs, the Commission took the lead to gain our city’s designation as Virginia’s first member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities – a significant honor.
The Division of Aging and Adult Services is our local government agency that serves our seniors and disabled, striving to help those who want to stay in their homes by providing services that help in day-to-day living.
For seniors who are independent, there are activities at our senior centers, including shopping trips, special events and opportunities for socialization. For those who require a more supportive environment, the Adult Day Services Center is a remarkable and nurturing place.
Senior Services of Alexandria is a local nonprofit devoted to our seniors. SSA partners with DAAS to deliver Meals on Wheels 365 days a year. In addition to its Friendly Visitor program, SSA assists seniors with grocery shopping, transportation requests for residents with a disability, monthly informational programs and Senior Law Day. At Home in Alexandria is a membership organization that offers practical support, enrichment, fun and opportunities for friendship for seniors by providing many activities that promote socialization, exercise and education.
Soon after I became mayor, I established the Senior Advocacy Roundtable, bringing together leaders from our nonprofits that serve our seniors, the Commission on Aging, INOVA Alexandria Hospital and relevant city departments. In our meetings, we focus on finding ways that all these entities can join forces to ensure we are meeting the needs of our seniors. Working together, we have gotten better results. It is exciting to see the energy and enthusiasm as these leaders brainstorm new ideas and collaborate to make things possible for our seniors and make the outcomes even more successful.
If you are a senior in Alexandria, please know that we want you to be happy, safe and thriving. As mayor, I urge you to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities these organizations and our city offer to enrich your lives. We are grateful for all you have done and continue to do to make our community the special place it is today. Alexandria values you and wants you to enjoy your senior years.
The writer is mayor of Alexandria.