Social & Civic Participation

A variety of social opportunities are available for older adults in Berkeley. These include fitness, art, education, political and and cultural activities. While the vast majority of survey respondents indicated that they participate in social activities at least a few times a week, transportation and affordability of activities were raised as barriers. Making activities more affordable, accessible, and widely advertised would help residents, particularly isolated seniors, participate.

Age Friendly Resources


Nonprofit & University


Community Survey Results

One of the top reasons Berkeley was rated positively by survey respondents as a place to age was the availability of many different services and activities. The vast majority of survey respondents said they are actively participating in social activities. However, various surveys indicate that 6-11% of Berkeley seniors socialize less that once week and follow up is needed to identify the needs of these isolated seniors.





said they socialize at least a few times a week


said they participate in continuing education or self-improvement classes




said it is important for them to have a range of opportunities to volunteer


said they have transportation to and from volunteer activities

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According to focus groups moderated by the Berkeley Continuum

  • Some people had been to the senior centers and liked them. However, a few people said they did not like the senior center, with some adding that it seemed "depressing".

  • Participants who lived in multi-unit housing indicated that they needed more information about what activities were happening in the community.

  • Those living in single family homes showed more interest in finding ways to be connected to social activities.

Berkeley has a long history of being at the center of social movements. Older adults in the community are heavily involved in local politics.





said it is very important to have opportunities to participate in local government and decision making


said it is important for them to have opportunities to participate in local councils and committees




said their community has volunteer and civic engagement opportunities


of registered Berkeley voters participated in the 2016 election, higher than the county turnout (75.42%)


Take Aways

  • Infrastructure and Policy: Transportation to activities, language accommodations, and making activities accessible is especially important for seniors who are at risk of isolation and are not typically included in community events. Reducing barriers to participation with infrastructure and policy improvements will make community events and activities more inclusive.

  • Equity and Inclusion: Active civic engagement has been a prominent part of Berkeley's history and continues to be important to residents of all ages. Opportunities for older adults with a variety of physical abilities, cultural backgrounds, and languages will help foster a stronger sense of community, both intergenerationally and among older adults in Berkeley.

  • Information: Having activities available will not be enough to ensure that everyone has a way to participate. We want to also ensure that there are various modes of communicating information about the programs so that those without computer access or who are more isolated will have information about services and activities they can participate in. This will also require communicating information in multiple languages and in written and audio formats.


Action Plan

In Process

Year 1

Year 2-3