Los Angeles County is home to a vibrant and diverse group of more than two million residents aged 60 and older. By 2030, that number will approach three million, or 28 percent of the county population. To serve older residents, both the county and city of Los Angeles operate Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). These agencies developed “Purposeful Aging Los Angeles” (PALA), a coalition of county, city, and community partners working together to create an age-friendly community. To help align these services and plan for an age-friendly future, the L.A. County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) enlisted FUSE Executive Fellow Minoli Ratnatunga. Minoli conducted a needs assessment for older adult services and captured progress made by the PALA coalition in its first five years. Minoli’s analysis helped align and target programs in the four-year area plans across both jurisdictions by completing a joint assessment for both the County and the City of Los Angeles.
To capture the needs and priorities of the growing older adult population, Minoli consulted a diverse group of stakeholders and foregrounded older Angelinos’ voices. Her survey of more than 1,000 older adults and 35 county and city service providers was supplemented by site visits, in-depth interviews, and public comments from 13 hearings around L.A. County. Minoli identified expanding needs through her research, including for housing security, translation services, and culturally competent care. Minoli drafted a five-year update as part of the L.A. region’s participation in the World Health Organization’s global “Age-Friendly Cities” initiative. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Minoli pivoted to support new emergency nutrition programs for vulnerable older adults by streamlining internal procedures, managing waiting lists, and developing and deploying helpful tools for local restaurants doing business with a government agency for the first time. Together, these programs provided an essential lifeline for more than 10,000 older Angelinos in need.