Recent news that Del Web may build a development for active seniors adjacent to San Juan Oaks should in no way defuse our leaders from intensifying their efforts to develop additional senior housing opportunities in Hollister. Developments like Del Web will only provide for a small portion of the increasing demand for this group. The senior population, 65 and over, makes up 13+% of the U.S population at 42 million.
By 2030 this figure will climb to 70 million. Planning must be inclusive and provide for the economic and social needs of all citizens and be designed for safe and healthy living. It must nurture a sense of community. Living environments can encourage citizens of all ages to walk or bike and enhance a healthier life style. Robert Steuteville of Cities & Towns states “Boomers are into fitness. They walk, ride bicycles, have easy access to parks, and many will seek mixed-use places. The nation will need more active living, and more complete communities to accommodate this massive demographic shift. That probably means a Walk Score of at least 70”. [check your walk score on the Internet] A study of over 3,500 overweight adults found a good diet and walking 2.5 hours/week reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58%.
Participants aged 60 and over reduced their risk by 71%. [New England Journal of Medicine, 2002] Peter Abani, MD of chronic diseases states “fighting chronic diseases through sustainable lifestyle changes is critical in living a happy and healthy life”. Moreover, as health improves, particularly in the older segments of our population, associated healthcare costs drop. Finally, health and happiness are closely linked. The World Database On Happiness ranks where you live as the #1 determinant to happiness. It behooves us, then, to invest in and enhance our built environment with these objectives in mind. There is a great deal of information on how to develop healthy, walk able communities, especially for seniors. Hollister must face the task and undertake the responsibility of building an infrastructure that encourages healthy living. All that is required is the will. Dan Burdan makes the case in a twenty-minute visual presentation to members of AARP. This illustrated presentation should be the primary resource for everyone concerned, and especially those entrusted with planning our future.
Tony Ruiz/Chris Breen