Health and Family Services Cabinet
Big Sandy elder readiness meeting reveals regional survey findings
FRANKFORT, KY (Sept. 21, 2007) – Most Big Sandy area residents are aware that the aging of the baby boomers (people currently age 43-61) will bring major changes to their communities – but they don’t think their communities are actively planning for what has been called a pending “demographic tsunami.”
That’s one of the key findings from the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative survey revealed at a meeting Thursday at the Big Sandy Area Development District office in Prestonsburg. Presenting findings from the KERI survey were Deborah Anderson, commissioner of the state Department for Aging and Independent Living in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, 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.
"By asking Kentuckians for their perspective on their communities' needs, KERI researchers are finding out that the needs of today and tomorrow's seniors are different than those of yesterday's," Governor Fletcher said. "The information gathered through KERI is changing our perceptions of what seniors need and expect from their communities to ensure they have a quality life as they age in Kentucky."
"The KERI project is telling us that Big Sandy area residents are most concerned about increasing employment options for elders, as well as developing adult day care programs and places of work and more residential options for elders," Anderson said. "That's valuable information for the area's community leaders to use as they plan for the needs of their changing population."
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 Big Sandy regional survey include:
§ According to 2000 census data, adults age 60 and older make up 16 percent of the Big Sandy region’s total population. By 2030, residents 60 and older will make up nearly 30 percent of the population, an estimated 73 percent increase.
§ Developing residential options for elders and providing programs to support people with disabilities and their aging caregivers led the list of issues identified as most important in community efforts to prepare for the coming population shift.
§ A majority of Big Sandy residents (70 percent of baby boomers and 56 percent of older adults) believe the aging of the baby boom will have significant or major impact on the region. Respondents expect negative effects on housing, tax revenues, funding for services and caregiving for elders. At the same time, Big Sandy residents believe the aging of the baby boom generation will have a positive effect on employment, transportation, environmental design, health care delivery and aging services.
§ Almost two-thirds of older adults (66 percent) and 43 percent of baby boomers say their communities do not have public transportation. However, 56 percent of all survey respondents said they expect their need for public transportation to increase as they age.
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 Kentucky residents earlier this summer.
Data from the KERI Big Sandy regional survey can be viewed at http://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/dail/kerisurveyreports.htm.