Health and Family Services Cabinet
Green River elder readiness meeting reveals regional survey findings
FRANKFORT, KY (Aug. 15, 2007) – Most Green River 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 today at the Green River Area Development District Office in Owensboro. 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.
“Through the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative, we have clarified the population shift facing Kentucky in the coming years,” Governor Fletcher said. “Now, with feedback obtained from the statewide survey, we are identifying the extent of the problem and the specific areas communities must address.”
“The survey provides communities with a wealth of valuable information,” Birdwhistell said. “This project provides a strong foundation on which Kentucky communities can plan the future in such areas as health, transportation and recreational opportunities.”
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 Green River regional survey include:
Redefining the role of senior centers was considered either very important or somewhat important by more than 98 percent of baby boomers and 85 percent of older adults. Survey analysts said this suggests the need for senior centers to provide additional or alternative services and resources, such as gyms and computer work stations, that may be useful and appealing to current and future seniors.
Lincoln Trail respondents believe the aging of the baby boom generation will have negative effects on housing, transportation, health care, tax revenues, funding for services and government policies. By contrast, they said the aging of the baby boomers presents opportunities for progress in employment, environmental design, aging services and caregiving for elders.
Most Green River residents expect to remain in their current residences as they age. More than 70 percent of baby boomers and nearly 90 percent of older adults expect to be living in their personal residences at age 75. Older adults are somewhat more likely (33 percent) than baby boomers (26 percent) to expect to still be living at home at age 90. A significant proportion of all respondents said they expect to be living in assisted living facilities at age 90, a finding survey analysts said suggests an increased need for affordable variations of this housing option in the region.
Baby boomers said when it comes to preparing for the aging of their generation, providing programs to support grandparents raising grandchildren is the most important of several options offered. Among older adults, long-term support programs for people with disabilities and their aging caregivers was rated most important.
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 Green River regional survey can be viewed at http://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/dail/kerisurveyreports.htm.