Staying in Summit: Living in Summit for a lifetime
Summit County residents have access to recreation, cultural events, sense of community and more — and one organization is working to add services and facilities that will provide seniors and adults with disabilities an option to stay here in Summit if they choose.
For the Summit Daily
Editor’s Note: This sponsored content is brought to you by SIS – Staying in Summit.
Ninety percent of aging adults in the U.S. want to remain living in their communities for as long as possible, but in order for that to happen, the proper services need to be available.
Research shows that seniors who age in place enjoy a sense of comfort, independence and other longevity-related benefits that only their communities can provide. That’s precisely the mission of Staying in Summit (SIS), a nonprofit that was formed last year to advocate for senior housing and more medical services that could help seniors remain living in Summit County. One of the organization’s primary goals is to build a full continuum of care to include independent living, assisted living and memory care, with the hopes of adding skilled nursing services down the road.
“It’s not for everybody, but if you’re healthy and you take care of yourself and keep doing what you’ve been doing and don’t stop, you really can live a productive and wonderful life up here,” said Andy Searls, one of the active members of this new nonprofit.
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Staying in the community avoids the disruption and expense of moving, and research shows it helps slow the advancement of memory loss, allows seniors to keep their social networks and contributes to more self-determination.
Thanks to Summit Seniors and the Summit County Community and Senior Center, combined with all of the recreational activities in Summit County, Searls feels there are just a few pieces of the puzzle missing: affordable senior housing, assisted-living and a memory care facility, which would include more specialized geriatric medical support services. Staying in Summit intends to gather data to determine which of these living options would be its first priority.
Staying in Summit’s interest in pursuing better options for living in Summit County for a lifetime include the following:
1. Familiar surroundings and remaining close to family and friends.
Senior housing and health services benefit the entire community, not just seniors. Main Street in Frisco and Breckenridge are examples — so many businesses have been owned by the same families for decades. These long-time residents not only want to stay in Summit they want their aging family members to also be able to live nearby.
2. Access to recreational activities and cultural events.
Searls skis about twice a week with her son, who lives with her. She said she knows many seniors who enjoy hiking, skiing, biking, fishing and other outdoor recreation in Summit County.
“I’ve been living here for 16 years — I’m about to turn 83 and I don’t feel any different at all,” she said. “And I’m not unusual. There are a lot of seniors that really just love it here.”
3. Freedom of choice.
Seniors want to have some options in their living situations. There are many cases in which seniors have left Summit County simply because they had no other choice because needed services did not exist.
4. Better assisted living, memory care and rehabilitation options. Specialized medicine is important to all residents of Summit County. When you have broken bones or torn ligaments, you see an orthopedic doctor. Senior health care is also a medical specialty, known as geriatric medicine. SIS envisions building a facility that may help create demand for these specialized serves, as well as other services already here such as hospice and physical therapy.
5. A more Age-Friendly Community
Summit County made a commitment in 2019 to work toward becoming a more Age-Friendly Community. Providing more opportunities for seniors to age in place will help Summit County meet the AARP’s 8 Domains of Livability which include the following:
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
- Social participation
- Respect and social inclusion
- Civic participation and employment
- Community and information
- Community and health services
6. Economic and community impacts.
When people leave the community, they take their financial assets, volunteerism, oral histories and more with them.
“There are some very healthy seniors who have left because of a lack of options,” Searls said. “They were using local lawyers, banks, and accountants, plus volunteering and donating generously to county nonprofits.”
Currently, there is an outflow of both economic and social capital as people leave the county because they have no other choice.
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