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
Senior Centers serve hundreds of people daily with group classes and activities including meals, foreign language, memoir writing, music, field trips, dance, and birding. They also have voter registration materials.
Nonprofit & University
UC Berkeley Osher Lifelong Learning Institute offers a wide variety of classes for adults 50 and older.
The Jewish Community Center organizes group "Trips Around Town" for seniors and has adult classes, lunches, clubs, and events.
The Center for Independent Living advocates with and for people of all ages with disabilities and offers organized social activities.
A support and advocacy group for LGBTQ seniors, Lavender Seniors has a 'Friendly Visitor' program and monthly lunches to keep members connected.
The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club is a nonprofit outdoor sport club that has been active since 1928. Members offer free classes to the public.
A new advocacy and social justice interest group growing out of Ashby Village meets to discuss and plan advocacy efforts.
J-Sei is a community center that offers a space for intergenerational activities and services that pass on Nikkei values and traditions.
The Center for Elders' Independence organizes social activities and has an adult day health center as part of their PACE program.
Ashby Village members organize events, volunteer activities and various interest groups that meet regularly including advocacy, poetry, bridge, movies, and technology.
As a major local employer, the UC Berkeley retirement center connects 2,245 UC retirees is Berkeley and Albany with volunteer opportunities, book clubs, workshops, and Retirees' Associations.
The East Bay Gray Panthers are an intergenerational advocacy group fighting for social justice and combating ageism.
The Berkeley Continuum is a non-profit group that is working to ensure that a continuum of services and supports are available for older people to age in their communities.
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
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%)
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.
Plan additional intergenerational community activities that encourage participation of different ages and cultures
Consider older adult comments and public input to T1 infrastructure expenditures to ensure public spaces are developed with the needs of older adults in mind.
Help neighborhood associations, formal and informal groups, and city agencies focus on providing opportunities for older people to participate, especially low-income, isolated and disabled seniors.