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Elderly and Cities
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“In a 2005 survey by the National League of Cities, more city officials said they were concerned about the increase in elderly (72%) than other demographic changes such as rapid growth (58%), immigration (54%) and increasing school-age populations (51%).”

This startling finding is part of a story in the May 14, 2007, USA Today, about a report titled “A Blueprint for Action” to be released on May 17, 2007, by the MetLife Foundation. The story quotes foundation president Sybil Jacobson about the approaching challenge, “There needs to be a bit of a wake-up call to communities across the country.”

Aging Baby Boomers

A summary of the scope of this report:  “…the report is designed to prod communities to start planning for what’s about to hit them:  79 million baby boomers who are aging. The oldest turn 61 this year. If patterns hold, most will age where they live rather than move…The report, containing research by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Partners for Livable Community and other advocacy groups, lays out steps cities and counties can take to anticipate the needs of the elderly.”

Issues related to the aging will impact city budgets, especially in light of the longer life expectancy of today’s seniors. Examples include transportation, housing, health care, public safety, human services, and civic engagement.

On the plus side, older people tend to have better health and can be involved in rejuvenating core areas of cities—“this week’s report also encourages tapping the skills and experience of the elderly through civic involvement, consulting, and tutoring in schools. Mostly, it urges incorporating the needs of the elderly in all public planning.”

THINK ABOUT IT:  Look around your community. What do the demographics tell you about the number of seniors? What type of programs and services currently serve the aging population? How can you encourage the involvement of this segment of society to contribute to the well-being of your community?

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