In Wednesday’s class, we had a short debrief and discussion about last week’s visit to the Bayside Community Center. We also had a Healthy Aging Project (HAP) check-in for the Casa de Manana Dance and West Senior Wellness Center Prom, and a discussion on Ashton Applewhite’s book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto against Ageism. In our discussion, we talked about the ‘Paradox of Aging’ and the ‘Bull Effect,’ and learned how the media causes us to feel guilty about aging, when in reality it is something beautiful. Lastly but not least, we went over information about the Neighborhood Assessment Project (NAP). During this part of the class, we briefly went over the World Health Organization’s Checklist of Age Friendly Cities and learned there are 8 domains that need to be assessed when checking if a city is age-friendly. Generally speaking, the 8 domains encompass: Outdoor Spaces and Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civic Participation and Employment, Communication and Information, and Community and Health Services. Most of these domains are physically visible, whereas other require physical conversation. Since my group and I will be in charge of doing a Neighborhood Assessment at La Jolla, we hope to travel North, East, West, and South to get a sense of what La Jolla encompasses. Our first visit will be this Saturday, and we hope to go again on Monday. We plan to take a lot pictures, and use these pictures in our presentation. For our paper, we will use outside resources to get more information about the La Jolla community, especially in regards to its demographics.
On Wednesday, I was introduced to the wonderful staff members at Bayside Community Center that have dedicated their time and effort to providing services, education, and advocacy to the Linda Vista Community. Thanks to this community center, Linda Vista residents have access to Health & Wellness, Food Security, Leadership Training, and many other programs. I actually got a chance to participate in one of their Health & Wellness Programs, by dancing Zumba with a few of the Linda Vista residents that came to the event. It was a lot of fun!
When I discovered that Linda Vista is federally defined as a “food desert” and about 40% of the residents at Linda Vista live below the poverty line, I was shocked. How can a place that is located not too far away from La Jolla, be under such substandard conditions? It just did not make any sense. However, what I found most upsetting is how children go hungry each night at Linda Vista, and landlords do not bother to fix health hazards in the home, because it is much easier to threaten their tenants to stay quiet, by warning them that they can lose their home, if they choose to file a report. Oftentimes, this is a major threat for new immigrant families that come to live in the United States.
Given these are the struggles that most Linda Vista residents go through, I’m glad to hear that many residents feel safe and welcomed each time they come to Bayside Community Center. Based on the few words that the Executive Director, Cory Pahanish, shared with the rest of the class, it almost seems as though Bayside represents the heart of the community. I hope this continues to be the case, as Bayside continues to expand in the next couple of months.
On Wednesday’s class, representatives from ‘Get a Cane’ came and introduced their non-profit organization to the class. The mission of this non-profit organization is to collect and redistribute medical and mobility devices to economically disadvantaged persons in the community. The reason this non-profit organization came into existence is because the founder discovered the need for medical/mobility devices at an early age, when he was volunteering at Thornton Hospital. It was his first day as a volunteer, and saw how a man fell to the floor as he approached the entrance door of the hospital. He soon discovered that the man had cardiac problems, and had to walk a long distance to get to the hospital from his car. If only the man had access to a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, perhaps this incident would have been prevented altogether. From this moment, he realized something had to be done, in order to increase medical/mobility device accessibility, so he started his own non-profit in college, with the help of a few fellow students. They’re currently serving San Diego residents, but are hoping to expand their services to Mexico. Overall, I am quite amazed to hear that college students managed to start this non-profit organization on their own and actually run it. I wonder if they had to pass a lot of loop holes to actually make this happen or if it was a smooth process. I regret not asking them these questions in class. Nonetheless, I admire their passion and dedication and wish them the best of luck, as they continue to expand their services. :)
I’m truly amazed at how well Casa de Manana treats their residents. When I heard they assist residents with as little or as much service as they want or need delivered to the privacy of their home at Casa on their schedule, I quickly realized that Casa de Manana truly respects their residents by ultimately respecting their level of independence. Staff members are not playing around when they say Casa de Manana is an ‘extraordinary retirement resort community.’ You honestly do not have to look inside Casa de Manana to realize that it is not your typical retirement home, since it is literally located right next to the La Jolla coast. Just by standing on Casa de Manana’s front porch, you can literally smell and see the ocean. Once you step inside, you quickly realize the luxurious common areas and the many opportunities to get involved in all sorts of fun activities (ocean walks, musical programs, classes/lectures). With these high living standards, I’m not surprised to hear that the average age of most residents is in the 90s.
However, I was quite surprised that despite how much residents pay to live in Casa de Manana (ranges anywhere from $3,555 to $10,425 a month) not all the rooms have sufficient ventilation. I also find it interesting how Casa de Manana provides access to an on-site wellness clinic, yet this clinic is right next to a smoking site. So even though residents are receiving healthcare, the location in which they are receiving this type of care is not the best. Based on this observation, I discovered there is no perfect retirement community, but oftentimes money leads to overall better services and therefore healthier aging. I honestly do not think this is fair and for this reason, in my Healthy Aging Project, I hope to provide similar healthy aging services to retirement homes that currently have a small budget.