Meet the Washtenaw County Healthy Aging Collaborative

By the end of the decade, one in four residents in Washtenaw County will be age 60 or over. 

“The senior population is growing by approximately 2,500 more people every year,” says Jim McGuire, director of research, policy, and advocacy for the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, “and there are now more seniors than children under age 18.”

In an effort to identify the needs of seniors, and to improve the county’s services for this growing community, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners established a new Commission on Aging.  

“The lifestyles and expectations of older adults today are different than they were even a decade ago,” says District 1 Commissioner Jason Maciejewski, who sponsored the resolution that created the commission. “It is important the county understands the expectations of older adults so we can consider the impact of our operations and services as we make policy and approve budgets.”

The formation of the Commission on Aging created a need for a new collaborative to serve in a supportive role to the commission—providing expertise on existing aging services, as well as gaps in specific service sectors as they relate to the needs of seniors and their families.

The Washtenaw County Healthy Aging Collaborative, sponsored by the Washtenaw Health Initiative (WHI) and Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA 1B), was formed to serve this purpose. Previously existing groups–including the WHI’s Senior Services workgroup, the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders’ Aging Sector group, and the county’s Blueprint for Aging group–have been included in the collabortive.

The cross-sector collaborative will develop and own a county-side healthy aging strategy and promote age-friendly practices. Each of the collaborative’s members will be an organizing force around specific service areas or domains, such as equity, caregiving, faith communities, housing, nutrition, and more. Domain leaders may also form sub-groups to better coordinate work within specific service areas. 

The goal is to keep the main collaborative group smaller—to allow for more strategic action that supports the development and implementation of a county-wide strategy. 

The group’s co-chairs are Ann Davis, community member and WHI Steering Committee member and Monica Prince, executive director of the Ypsilanti Senior Center.

The collaborative’s domains and representatives include: