FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fostering resiliency in our communities is critical during today’s climate of uncertainty, especially among elders who have been greatly impacted by isolation and loneliness due to COVID-19. The South Florida Institute on Aging (SoFIA) recently hosted a virtual roundtable, “Aging and Resilience: Where Do We Go From Here?,” that brought together community leaders and technology experts to discuss how South Florida’s communities can work together to bounce back from the crisis and ensure that our most vulnerable populations are supported with opportunities to thrive.
Moderated by Tom Hudson of WLRN, panelists included David Jobin of Our Fund Foundation, Michael Goldstein of LAN Infotech, Shelley Benizri of the Israeli American Council Florida, Bob Swindell of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, Danielle Ishak of Intuition Robotics (IR) and Vice Mayor of the City of Oakland Park Jane Bolin.
Some key takeaways from the roundtable discussion include:
- Bob Swindell: “Workstyles will change dramatically with job sharing becoming more viable and managers becoming more adept at project management, all of which are helping to make remote and part-time work more feasible. I believe these types of changes will be especially beneficial for older adults looking for flexibility in the workplace. The good news is that South Florida continues to be a desirable relocation hub for businesses from the Northeast.”
- David Jobin, whose organization started the Our Fund Foundation Resilience Fund to provide critical help to LGBTQ nonprofits in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties with operations severely impacted by COVID-19, said: “South Florida should use this experience as a catalyst for better programs. Aging should not be a stigma, but a celebration.”
- Shelley Benizri noted that she has seen an increased desire for volunteerism as people gain greater empathy for the social isolation many older adults feel daily. “Like raising children, it takes a village to care for our elderly population. We need to find better ways to realign with our new reality and make connections between organizations so that the village can work more efficiently.”
- Jane Bolin emphasized the need for better data to identify seniors in need and to provide more affordable or universal access to the Internet. “While the City of Oakland Park had plans to provide free WiFi along the city’s main street, there are no longer adequate funds for this due to the pandemic. It’s important to bring programs online through collaborations so that cities can continue to deliver services to those in need.”
- According to Danielle Ishak, technology companies need to push the envelope and develop universal design that is more intuitive for older adults. “ElliQ® offers an insider’s program that pairs older adults with robots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) who act as a helper and companion, greatly reducing social isolation.”
- Michael Goldstein: “Non-profits like SoFIA need to continue to bring their training programs to community cable channels, which are easily accessible to older adults.”
As a non-profit think and act tank, SoFIA hosts a series of roundtable discussions focused on the older population in local communities. SoFIA creates and delivers socio-economic support programs for South Florida seniors that can also serve as a model for other communities with aging populations.
“Roundtable discussions, like those offered through SoFIA, are a critical step to building interconnected communities,” said Lynn Brewer, SoFIA interim CEO and president. “Timely conversations among leaders from all sectors help facilitate innovative and workable solutions for our elders.”
To find out more about SoFIA’s mission and programs visit theSoFIA.org
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