Johnson County puts on events for Older Americans Month


Nick Rohlman

People walk in the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall on Thursday, April 26, 2018. Iowa City has released plans for renovations and updates to the area. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Johnson County is making the elderly its focus for the month of May.

May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month, and Johnson County is celebrating with a series of events. These events are aimed at educating the elderly about different services in the community and other citizens about caring for the elderly and being in a livable community.

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said Johnson County strives to include every population in the county, and officials want to take time to focus on a group that may need some help.

“We think it’s a really important thing to recognize and make a big deal out of it,” he said.

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Johnson County aging specialist Jeff Kellbach said seniors are the fastest growing demographic in the county, so they’re trying to make people aware of this and address any issues the population may be having. His position was created earlier this year to coordinate resources for older adults and provide education and outreach services.

There will be five events throughout May, put on by the Johnson County Livable Community. Created by Johnson County in 2007, its mission is to “serve as a unifying structure that fosters effective collaboration, communication, and education that will build and sustain a livable community for successful aging,” according to its website.

The first event, “Aging in Place Successfully,” will take place at the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors, 847 Quarry Rd., Coralville, today. This is the first part of a six-month series put on by the Johnson County Livable Community Housing Action Team, Homebuilders’ Association, and the Iowa City Association of Realtors. The groups will educate people on ways to make aging in the home easier.

“Car Free and Care-Free” will be the next event, hosted by the Transportation Action Team on May 8 at the Coralville Public Library. There will be a panel of speakers from Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty, talking about ways to get around town without a car.

“That loss of independence can be really difficult to deal with,” Kellbach said. “This forum is addressing how you can keep your independence at this point in your life.”

There are three more events throughout the month, with “Community Dialogue” wrapping up on May 31. The final event is a discussion between the Johnson County Livable Community and the people living in it on what makes Johnson County a livable community and how they can make it better.

“Although I think we’re a very great community, we’re not perfect, we know we’re not perfect, so what are those gaps? What can we improve?” Kellbach said.

Michelle Buhman, program specialist at the Senior Center, said the county has always supported the center and its patrons. She is excited about this month’s events. The Senior Center puts on events of its own to celebrate, such as the Iowa City Pride’s Community Showcase and Engage at Every Age Membership fair.

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