Editor’s note: The St. Helena Star is a sister paper to the Weekly Calistogan.
Napa County has more people over 60 than under 20.
That dramatic demographic trend is gathering steam every year as baby boomers accumulate more candles on their birthday cakes. But are our social services keeping pace?
We met last week with Julie Spencer, executive director of Rianda House; Kris Coryell, Rianda board chair; Kris Brown from Napa County Health and Human Services; and Celine Regalia of Collabria Care (formerly Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services).
Those agencies are working together on a Live Healthy Napa County plan to address seniors’ needs and get people thinking about what we need to do to maintain a “livable community.”
Based on their comments, it’s clear that we have to shore up our social infrastructure to address the near-future needs of our large and growing senior population. We need to consider the imminent need for more senior housing, assisted living, low-cost dental care, home health aides and end-of-life support.
Housing is an especially critical issue, and senior advocates are hoping to spread awareness through a housing summit from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, June 6, at Hillside Christian Church, 100 Anderson Road in Napa.
Services are needed not only for seniors, but for their caregivers, who tend to be seniors themselves. According to the Napa Older Adult Survey, 69 percent of caregivers are 65 or older, and many of them are driven to neglect their own health as they devote their lives to a loved one.
Behind the scenes, Rianda House works with local agencies to help connect seniors with the services they need. For example, caregivers can make an appointment at Rianda House to talk to a social worker from Collabria Care, or get trained in how to provide better care.
Other communities rely on local government and taxpayer dollars to provide a senior center, but St. Helena doesn’t have that luxury. Rianda receives only a small sliver of its funding from the city, so it’s up to private donors like us to fill that gap.
The 8-year-old senior center is holding its Rally4Rianda fundraising drive throughout May. You can donate at RiandaHouse.org or at the classic car show and community celebration from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21, at Tre Posti, 641 Main St.
There will be food, wine, Mad Fritz craft beer, music by the Saint Helena Community Band, and lots of cool cars. Supporting seniors is already a great cause, and Rianda House it making it awfully easy and fun to do so.
You can also support Rianda by buying some food or wine at Velo Vino from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday, May 12, when 20 percent of sales will go to Rianda.
The center has already paid off its mortgage, so all donations will go toward operating costs: keeping the lights on, funding programs, and paying a staff that’s surprisingly small given how much they do.
Just look at the Rianda House calendar to get an idea of the breadth and depth of services it provides: exercise, brain fitness, games and social events, writing workshops, art classes, meditation, history lectures, a Parkinson’s support group in conjunction with St. Helena Hospital, and a May 25 nature walk at Lake Hennessey with local outdoorsman Ken Stanton.
As local agencies start a broader community conversation about senior issues, let’s support Rianda House and pitch in to ensure that we’re prepared for the graying of Napa County.