In summary

The California Department of Aging is hosting an online summit Jan. 13 about what we can do in the next 100 days on the Master Plan for Aging.

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By Kim McCoy Wade, Special to CalMatters

Kim McCoy Wade is the director of California’s Department of Aging,

With COVID-19 now surging, acting on California’s Master Plan for Aging begins at an urgent time. This new framework engages Californians to ensure our communities are inclusive, equitable places for people at every age and ability.  

California is becoming older and more diverse. This trend prompted, and the pandemic’s tough lessons shaped, the master plan. The plan aims to build back our communities better, with bold goals for 10 years that begin now. It also acknowledges inequities magnified by COVID-19’s disproportionate impacts on older people, people with disabilities and communities of color. Each of us – in state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropy – has a role to play in California’s success.

This is why the Department of Aging is hosting an online summit Jan. 13 about what we can do in the next 100 days on the master plan. The summit will feature senior officials from the Newsom administration, lawmakers and key stakeholders like AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association, and Justice in Aging. I encourage you to join the discussion. 

The master plan was created after consulting with communities and experts for more than a year. It is centered on five bold goals: housing for all ages and stages, health reimagined, inclusion and equity, caregiving that works and affording aging. These are practical, life sustaining and enhancing pursuits. In achieving them, we will build a California where every older adult and person with a disability is engaged, valued and afforded equal opportunities to thrive as they age.  

This master plan will not collect dust. It is a framework for action. Over the next year alone, the Newsom administration will pursue more than 120 initiatives, and we are not wasting any time. 

The day after the master plan was released, California issued a new COVID-19 vaccination guidance so anyone over 65 years of age can obtain one. This will help stop the tragic, national trend where older adults, though a minority of cases, comprise 80% of all Californians who have died from COVID-19.

Gov. Gavin Newsom also outlined many impactful actions in his budget, including: 

  • Dedicating $250 million to preserve housing for older adults at risk of homelessness
  • Reforming care options by establishing a new Office of Medicare Innovation and Integration to expand long-term care access for Californians enrolled in Medicare and transforming Medi-Cal through person-centered care to expand services for those enrolled in Medi-Cal
  • Extending a backup provider system to avoid disruptions to in-home care during the pandemic
  • Building a “one-stop” telephone and online resource to assist Californians navigate and coordinate aging and disability services 
  • Leading on Alzheimer’s disease through $17 million in new funding for research, public awareness, caregiver and provider trainings, and building dementia-friendly communities, plus expanding pipeline in geriatric medicine
  • Appointing a senior advisor on Aging, Disability, and Alzheimer’s in the Governor’s Office to advance partnerships for action on the master plan, seeding the effort with $5 million. 

This is just a starting point. The master plan has a local playbook to channel California’s innovative spirit and diversity into new community-based partnerships for change. It is also a living document with built-in accountability. We will measure our progress against a series of key indicators through a publicly accessible data dashboard, and the Newsom administration will share an annual report with its updated actions for the state. 

Ultimately, everyone has a stake in the success of the master plan because all of us hope to grow old and live a fulfilling life. The ingredients for our success will be different 10 years from now. In 2030, one out of four Californians will be aged 60 and over. This demographic shift will change families, boost the number of us who live alone and increase those of us who remain in the workforce longer. 

By taking action together now to build a California for all ages, we can ensure Californians age with dignity, equity and safety while contributing to the fabric of California. 


Kim McCoy Wade has also written about how older Californians are finding ways to make their mark during COVID-19 pandemic.

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