California releases first Master Plan for Aging

The Newsom Administration announced the release of the Master Plan for Aging on Wednesday, outlining five goals and 23 strategies designed to prepare the state for the significant demographic changes – such as the growth in the over-60 population – expected in the coming years.

The new 10-year strategy is a result of Gov. Newsom’s June 2019 executive order calling for the development of a Master Plan to “serve as a blueprint for state government, local government, private sector and philanthropy to implement strategies and partnerships that promote healthy aging.”

 

Get the latest state-specific policy intelligence for the health care sector delivered to your inbox.

 

According to the Master plan, by 2030 California will be home to 10.8 million people age 60 and older – almost twice as many older adults as there were in 2010. In ten years, this cohort will make up one quarter of the state’s population.

“The next generation of older Californians will be significantly more diverse, will live longer, and will contribute in untold new ways to making our state a more vibrant place. As our state ages, we will also share new challenges across the decades—with more people staying in the workforce, more of our neighbors living alone, and too many of us enjoying less economic security than in decades past,” wrote Newsom in the plan’s opening message.

The plan’s 5 overarching goals focus on housing, health care, equity & inclusion, caregiving, and affordability, and consider the challenges revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Housing for All Ages and Stages: This goal aims to ensure Californians can access affordable housing options at all ages. The plan says the state will pursue more housing options, transportation beyond cars, accessible outdoor and community spaces, and proper emergency preparedness to achieve this goal.
  • Health Reimagined: The target of the “Health Reimagined” goal is to increase life expectancy while closing the equity gap. This, reasons the report, can be accomplished by improving access to care, improving coordination between health plans and community organizations, and ensuring that California’s health care workforce is more diverse and is trained in geriatrics.
  • Inclusion & Equity, Not Isolation: This goal relates to providing opportunities for engagement and increasing life satisfaction throughout the lifespan. Strategies include offering employment and volunteer opportunities, closing the digital divide, preventing elder abuse, and combatting ageism, ableism, racism, and sexism.
  • Caregiving That Works: According to the Master Plan, California will face a shortage of up to 3.2 million paid direct care workers in the coming years. To create a more effective caregiving system, the proposal recommends offering family caregivers supports like paid family leave and virtual care options. It also recommends offering training, improving job quality, and ensuring livable wages to the caregiving workforce.
  • Affording Aging: To increase elder economic security, the plan recommends strengthening the safety net to guard against poverty and hunger, while also investing in innovative strategies to prevent older adult homelessness.

“A particularly alarming trend is that residents over age 50 are now the fastest growing population of homeless people in many parts of the state, with the median age of the homeless expected to rise. Black men are disproportionately represented within the population of older Californians without homes, reflecting cumulative effects of decades of inequities in housing, education, employment, and criminal justice,” reads the Master Plan.

The Master Plan for Aging details over 100 initiatives to help meet these goals. A lead agency is designated for each initiative.

“This Master Plan on Aging advances bold, innovative, uniquely Californian solutions for issues that we will all confront within our own families and communities, if we have not already—and does so with a sustained focus on equity that we need to lift up everyone,” said Gov. Newsom in a statement. “The Plan reflects more than a year of hard work, research and sustained engagement to drive the partnerships that will improve lives for the older Californians of today and tomorrow.”