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Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) announced this week that it has recently launched and strengthened its Aging Well programming.  Prioritizing the health and wellness needs for older adults in Chaffee County has been a priority since its 2016 Community Health Assessment and 2017-2021 Community Health Improvement Plan.

“The progress that our county has made in its mission to create an ‘aging well’ movement is incredible.  With the support of the public and our community partners, as well as a passionate and caring team, CCPH has been able to ignite programming that has the potential to touch so many lives,” said Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom.  “As we identify upcoming health and wellness needs, whether for older adults or any other demographic, we will be collaborating with stakeholders and funders to come up with creative solutions to address gaps so that everyone in Chaffee County has a chance to thrive in health and wellness.”

Aging Well Programming

For over a year now, Molly Bischoff, Aging Well Coordinator at CCPH, has been leveraging the data found in the 2019-2020 Senior Needs Assessment to create services and supports that celebrate aging in collaboration with local stakeholders.

Long-awaited hugs from our grandchildren appear once again to be possible for fully-vaccinated grandparents. Photo by Ekaterina Shakharova for Unsplash.

Through several grants from the Next50 Initiative, an Age Strong Coalition has been gaining traction. Bischoff leads Yoga for Adults and Game Day each once a week on both ends of the county.

An aging expo is being planned for September which will bring back many of the similar aspects of the Embracing Aging Fair that was been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Educational and social events continue to be thoughtfully planned throughout the year as opportunities arise.  To find out more about how you can “age well” in Chaffee County, Bischoff can be reached at

Home Share Program

In collaboration with the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA), CCPH is piloting a home share program to synergize the county’s goals to make more affordable housing options available while also providing support for older adults to “age in place” in their homes.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

This program is largely funded through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment/Office of Health Equity’s Health Disparities and Community Grant Program.

After an extensive application and interview process, this program will match older adults who have living space available in their homes (home providers) with people of any age who are needing housing (home seekers) in exchange for conditions agreed upon between both parties.  These conditions could include light housework, transportation, or social connection.

A successful match will depend on each party’s needs and commitment to the program which will provide ongoing support.  Background checks for all applicants will be conducted through CHA.  Recently, Rand Conroe was hired as CCPH’s Home Share Coordinator, and extensive training and technical assistance are underway with a similar home share program in the Denver Metro area.

CCPH anticipates the program to be up and running by mid to late August.  The public and community partners should expect an extensive marketing and outreach campaign in the upcoming days to promote the program.  While CCPH is in the early stages of program development, Rand can be reached at  An announcement will be made when CCPH and CHA are accepting applications.
Ark Valley Helping Hands

As reported by Ark Valley Voice last week, after extensive consideration, the Ark Valley Helping Hands (AVHH) Board of Directors unanimously voted to explore transitioning the local nonprofit into a program of CCPH after the recent resignation of its Executive Director.  Board Member Andrea Carlstrom, also CCPH’s Director, abstained from voting due to the nature of the proposal.

Plans are underway by CCPH to hire an AVHH Coordinator with the full support of the AVHH Board of Directors.  This change in organizational structure will provide greater administrative and backbone infrastructure to better serve older adults in Chaffee County.  The Board of Directors says that it is committed to seeing this through its evolution and is determined that it be seamless for all AVHH members and volunteers.  The foundation of the program, neighbors helping neighbors, will continue and will continue to build out a network of local volunteers to help the older adults in our community.

Other Notable Programs

Recently launched by CCPH  are several community health programs including the free mobile health clinic, Chaffee Community Clinic, which can be found in Salida on Monday afternoons and Buena Vista on Tuesday afternoons, a Community Mobilization initiative focused on sexually transmitted infection prevention, testing, and treatment, and a behavioral health navigation workforce.