County Executive Falk and Aging Task Force Release Report on the Impact and Needs of Baby Boomers
November 23, 2004
What will Dane County baby boomers need when they retire? What impact will their large numbers—currently 30% of the county’s population—have on everything from housing and transportation to healthcare and safety?
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and the Dane County Task Force on Aging, working with the Area Agency on Aging Board, today released a 120-page report, based on a year of study, that examines and makes recommendations addressing these questions.
Falk and Nell Mally, co-chair of the Task Force, reported the findings at the senior meal site of the Colonial Club in Sun Prairie.
Beginning in 2010, Dane County will experience a profound shift in the age of its population when the first of the post war Baby Boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, will turn 65. The 60 population in Dane County is projected to increase 102% to number more than 106,000 and represent 20% of all persons in the county during 2020. Currently there are 52,444 people age 60 and over in Dane County.
“These demographics will drive public policy and influence social, economic, and political developments. There will be more seniors who need services and they may need different types of services,” said Falk. “One hope expressed in the Task Force Report is the potential for Boomers to use their considerable talents in volunteering to help each other. And, because of their wisdom and life experience, they also have much to offer younger generations.”
Falk, in March 2003, appointed the Task Force on Aging to examine the issues of Care Management, Caregiving, Economics and Active Aging, Housing and Infrastructure, Medical / Health Care, Public Safety and Transportation.
The issues identified in the report as of greatest concern include the:
· Coming scarcity of caregivers and attendants for people who need in-home or institutional care
· Plight of poor, older women living alone
· Lack of affordable transportation
· Rising need for alcohol and other drug abuse services for older people
· Shortage of preventive medical care, increasing costs of health care and prescription drugs, and lack of health insurance
· Lack of adequate dollars for Boomers to use for retirement.
The recommendations in the Report are directed not only toward Dane County government, but also toward businesses, faith communities, neighborhoods, educational institutions, non-profits, other organizations and the Boomers themselves.
Some of the findings are that:
· Boomers have a longer life expectancy than any previous generation, leading to less economic security in the later years.
· Boomers will want to volunteer and engage in meaningful activities. Education and learning activities will need to be more geared to adult settings and learning styles.
· While the over-50 age group has the highest rate of home ownership, cost is a barrier to adequate housing for a number of older citizens. Property taxes are a burden on elders living on a fixed income.
· Municipal codes need to increase the livability of neighborhoods, with such things as sidewalks, cross walks, transportation choices, security and supportive community services.
· Estimates are that men stop driving six years before their deaths and women about 11 years. During this time gap, they have transportation needs to prevent isolation and to continue involvement in their community. There are approximately 29,500 adults over the age of 70 in Dane County, including 11,000 over the age of 80. They will be the largest group to need alternate transportation on a regular basis
· To stay healthier longer, it will be necessary to enhance prevention and greatly reduce age-related disease such as cancer and heart disease. Good nutrition will play a significant role in affecting chronic health conditions and illness.
The Report says the Boomer generation has “had a profound effect on the nation’s social fabric by redefining each stage of life as it ages. It created the youth culture of the 1960s and 1970s, the dual income household of the 1980s and 1990s, and now views its forthcoming retirement years in terms quite different from previous generations.”
Co-chairs of the committee, appointed by County Executive Falk, were Nell Mally, former chair of the Area Agency on Aging Board and member of the Dane County Human Services Board and Judy Wilcox, former Dane County Board Supervisor and member of the Dane County Human Services Board. Members included Gerry Born, consultant, Knapp’s Development, Inc., Steve Braunginn, President/CEO, Urban League of Greater Madison, Lynn Green, Director, Dane County Department of Human Services, Jill Kranz, Director, Middleton Senior Center, Karen Musser, CEO of Elder Care of Wisconsin, James K. Ruhly, Attorney, Melli, Walker, Pease and Ruhly, S.C., Paul Rusk, Dane County Board Supervisor and Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, Kathleen Shaw, Margaret Thomas, retired, Town of Oregon residents, and Jim Wrich, AAA Board Member. Rita Odegaard, director of the Area Agency on Aging, staffed the initiative.
A copy of the report can be found online at http://www.co.dane.wi.us/aging/
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Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823