Aging and disability conference set for next week in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com
Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

Back to: Local News

Aging and disability conference set for next week in Grass Valley

KNOW AND GO

Our Community: Aging and Disability Conference

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday

Gold Miners Inn, 121 Bank Street, Grass Valley

Free Admission

To RSVP: Call 211 by Sunday

Seats are still available for Wednesday's "Our Community: Aging and Disability Conference," an informational event about services offered to older adults, people with disabilities, caregivers, family members and others.

"There are a lot of barriers that individuals face as they age," said Ana Acton, executive director of FREED Aging and Disability Resource Connection. "We start off our lives independent but as we age, we find we need additional support and services. It's the same for people with disabilities."

According to the most current statistics (2016), nearly one-third of Nevada County's population is 60 years of age or older. That's 33,881 people of the county's total population of 98,748. Of those 60-and-older residents, 27 percent live with one or more disabilities. Of the county's total population, more than 13 percent live with one or more disabilities, a figure higher than the average among California counties.

Acton said the third annual conference is a one-stop shop for resources and information.

"We bring everyone together to look at barriers to living independently in the community," Acton said.

Wednesday's conference will be held at Grass Valley's Gold Miners Inn from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The deadline to sign up is Sunday. Admission is free and a complimentary lunch will be provided.

Workshops will focus on affordable housing, assistive technology, healthcare reform, emergency preparedness, universal design and aging in place, preventing fraud and abuse, local resources and advance health directives. An array of tables and booths will be staffed by local service providers ready to explain the assistance and support they offer.

Keynote speakers will include John Gulserian from the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services speaking on emergency planning and response for people with access and functional needs, and Meghan Rose from Leading Age California discussing the housing crisis facing older adults and people with disabilities.

"It's no secret that our older adult population is growing rapidly," said Rose in a telephone interview from her Sacramento office. "I hope to educate conference participants about the need for and benefits of service-enriched affordable housing and engage them in a dialogue about how they can become better advocates for affordable housing in their communities."

Throughout the day, there will be nine workshops presented by experts in their fields. Those attending the conference may find help as close as their fingertips during the assistive technology workshop, co-hosted by FREED Disability Community Advocate Carl Sigmond.

"Our workshop will be looking at some of the built-in accessibility features of the iOS and Android operating systems, as well as some third-party apps that are useful to people with disabilities," explained Sigmond. "Mobile devices can open up vast opportunities for people with disabilities, but some of the functionalities are hard to find."

Organizers expect 100 participants.

"This is the place to come whether you're a consumer, professional, or just interested in aging and disability issues," said Pam Miller, Executive Director of the Agency on Aging/Area 4. "Those who will benefit most are older adults, caretakers, or people living with disabilities."

Miller said spending a few hours at the conference will reap more dividends than a potentially-frustrating online search.

"This is so much better than what you can find on the internet," Miller said. "The conference offers a personal touch and in-depth information. What you find on the internet is not always the most current. And some of our older adults are not comfortable using the internet."

The event is hosted by the Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Nevada County, a collaboration of FREED (Foundation of Resources for Equality and Employment for the Disabled) and the Agency on Aging/Area 4. Local sponsors include Telestream and Westamerica Bank.

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.