Health and Family Services Cabinet
Bluegrass elder readiness meeting reveals regional survey findings
FRANKFORT, KY (Aug. 10, 2007) – That’s one of the key findings from the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative survey revealed at a meeting yesterday at the Embassy Suites in Lexington. Presenting findings from the KERI survey were Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell and Graham Rowles, Ph.D., lead KERI investigator and director of the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Gerontology.
Governor Ernie Fletcher announced the elder readiness initiative in 2005 to raise awareness of the impending elder population boom. The first wave of baby boomers turned 60 last year.
“The statewide KERI survey has provided us valuable input that we as a state, as well as individual regions and communities, can use as we adapt to Kentucky’s aging population of baby boomers,” Governor Fletcher said.
“Now is the time to prepare for a population shift that will affect all areas of the lives of Kentuckians,” Birdwhistell said. “Communities must look at all aspects of what this demographic change will mean, as well as ways to adequately prepare.”
Focus groups and community forums were held during phase one of KERI to gather feedback used to develop the phase two survey. Responses to the survey were analyzed to measure interest, expectations and perceptions about programs and services for aging residents and aging in general.
Other findings from the Bluegrass regional survey include:
Nearly 98 percent of baby boomers and almost 90 percent of adults 62 and older said redefining the role of senior centers is very important or somewhat important to adequately prepare for impending growth of the aging population.
Two-thirds of baby boomers and nearly 70 percent of older adults don’t think their communities are actively preparing for the aging of the baby boomers.
Placing more emphasis on developing residential options for elders, developing business and second-career options for elders and providing long-term support for people with disabilities with aging caregivers topped the list of things respondents rated most important in making plans for the aging of the baby boom population.
Nearly 60 percent of all Bluegrass area respondents rated their current quality of life excellent or very good and nearly 70 percent of all who responded said they expect their quality of life to remain about the same over the next decade.
Outdoor recreation and access to natural settings are important to Bluegrass area adults, and they expect to continue to value those aspects of life in the region as they age. Eighty-one percent of baby boomers and 63 percent of older adults said they have used public parks in their communities in the past year. Nearly 85 percent of baby boomers and 74 percent of older adults said they plan to use local parks in the future.
Among the issues of most concern among Bluegrass respondents are a perceived negative effect on housing, transportation, health care delivery, tax revenues and funding for services as the population ages. At the same time, respondents said the aging of the baby boomers will have a positive influence on employment, environmental design, aging services, caregiving for elders and government policies.
More than 89 percent of respondents 62 and older said they expect to be living in their personal residences at age 75, as did 85 percent of baby boomers, residents age 43-61. Baby boomers are more than twice as likely as older adults to expect to be living in a nursing home at age 90 (17 percent versus 7 percent, respectively).
All age groups indicated that living in a relative’s residence as they grow older and more frail is considered a last resort.
The KERI survey was based on input gathered at regional focus groups and community forums during phase one of the initiative. Survey questions addressed concerns raised by a broad array of consumers and service providers, public and private interests and advocates. The survey was distributed to 9,600 residents earlier this summer.
Data from the KERI Bluegrass regional survey can be viewed at http://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/dail/KERI+Survey+Reports.htm.