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Older Philadelphians provide input to help develop Pennsylvania’s Master Plan for Older Adults

John Deangelis

During August and September, PCA held 18 listening sessions across the city and gathered feedback and suggestions from older adults and other stakeholders to help the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) develop its future Master Plan for Older Adults, a 10-year strategic plan designed to help transform the infrastructure and coordination of services for Pennsylvania’s older adults. 

PCA provided interpretation in Korean, Spanish and Mandarin, as well as conducted sessions specifically for the LGBTQ+ older adult community and professionals working in the aging services field. 
More than 450 participants attended these important listening sessions and gave valuable input about issues that affect Philadelphia’s aging community. PCA will prepare a report of those comments and suggestions to send PDA, with testimonials that demonstrate the complex issues and critical factors impacting older Pennsylvanians, for its future Master Plan for Older Adults.

Transportation issues
Older adults expressed a need for more reliable transit service. Many transit users also need help leaving their homes boarding the transit vehicle. In addition, the lack of wheelchair-friendly/walkable streets and transit throughout Philadelphia was noted.  

Affordable housing 
Housing is expensive. The number of senior housing units in Philadelphia is inadequate to meet the demand, as is the availability of affordable housing in general. Therefore, long waiting lists exist for the few available senior housing units. In addition, older adult homeowners face challenges with gentrification in their neighborhoods and finding resources to renovate or modify their homes for aging in place.

Technology access 

There is a “digital divide” among Philadelphia’s older adults that contributes to social isolation. More technical support, assistance and inclusion is needed to bridge the gap. Most older adults lack the resources, knowledge and skills to secure low-cost, at-home internet service. 

Community safety 
Many older adults feel unsafe in the city. They expressed being afraid to leave their homes and walk around their own neighborhood. 

Respect and social inclusion 
Older adults expressed feeling disrespected because of their age. They would like to see more intergenerational experiences offered and more resource access for people facing language barriers. 

Vital resources 
Senior community centers offer many opportunities and resources for older adults and are important hubs for many of the city’s older adults. PCA was also cited as a very important resource for older adults.  

Social participation 
There are a lack of opportunities for older adults to volunteer by offering their time and skills toward a cause or organization.  

Health access 
Older adults need assistance with navigating health care systems. Some have expressed feeling ignored by doctors and medical staff. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro set a deadline for completion of the Master Plan for Older Adults by Feb. 1, 2024, ahead of his next budget address. After the plan’s release, PCA will share it via

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