Dr. Neville E. Strumpf is an internationally-renowned scholar and educator in geriatric nursing. From her research on the harms of physical restraints in the care of frail older adults, to her decades of teaching at Penn Nursing, Strumpf is a tireless advocate for high-quality elder care. Her perspective on Philadelphia’s “State of Aging” underscores the importance of Ralston Center’s work now and in the future.
Neville Strumpf, PhD, FAAN, President of the Ralston Center Board of Managers since 2010 and a board member since 2007
By 2025, one in every four Philadelphians will be over the age of 55. Many of these residents will be working, most will want to stay in their homes, and nearly all will need support to help them age in good mental and physical health.
Thankfully, Philadelphians have a lot of support when it comes to aging in place. Our city has some of the best geriatric health care services in the United States. We have excellent human service agencies that cater to and advocate for the needs of older adults, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), SeniorLAW Center, CARIE, AARP and many others. We are also one of the only cities in the U.S. with free public transit for all adults over 65, helping to ease isolation, connect seniors to medical care, and provide safer options than driving or walking.
We are well positioned to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of older adults in Philadelphia with quality programs and services.
However, Philadelphia has some distinct challenges that make the goal of a truly age-friendly city difficult to achieve.
We are still the poorest of America’s biggest cities, with 26% of residents living below the federal poverty level, and over half of those residents living in deepest poverty.
The vast majority of these Philadelphians are people of color, and many are elderly.
We are also a city with many severe housing problems, including a lack of affordable housing and a decline in property conditions. For elders, inappropriate housing conditions can contribute to greater risks of hospitalization from falls or illness. For elders who own their homes, the cost of upkeep and maintenance can be prohibitive, and many elders have to choose between updating their homes and other crucial needs, like food or medications.
While Ralston works hard to make good on our mission to support older adults, we know we cannot fix everything. What we can do is build on our success with Ralston My Way, the premier in-home support services provider in Northwest Philadelphia. What we can do is continue to provide seniors with quality fitness classes to increase balance and strength, and decrease the risk of falls or hospitalizations. What we can do is ensure our elders are armed with up-to-date information about their health. At Ralston, we care, we move and we educate.
We are well positioned to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of older adults in Philadelphia with quality programs and services. It is my hope that you will continue to sustain Ralston Center and other nonprofit organizations that provide a place for Philadelphia’s seniors to find community, foster wellness and gain the knowledge they need to age well in their chosen community. ∎