FRANKFORT, KY (July 23, 2007) – How ready is your community for the aging baby boomer population? Find out at a series of 15 meetings scheduled around the state.
The Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative (KERI) recently completed a survey of Kentuckians to help gauge communities’ preparedness for the “graying of Kentucky.” Initial, area-specific results of that survey will be announced at the meetings, which continue local discussions begun during phase one of KERI. The public is encouraged to attend the meetings, which begin Aug. 7 in Maysville (see entire series schedule below).
Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell will lead the regional meetings, which will focus on the findings of the survey conducted to gauge interest, expectations and perceptions about programs and services for aging residents and aging in general. Results from previous focus groups and community forums also will be shared.
KERI is a partnership among the state Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Gerontology and the state’s 15 Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living. Governor Ernie Fletcher created DAIL in 2006 to ensure elder Kentuckians have a voice in his administration. The initiative seeks to raise awareness about and encourage communities and families to plan and prepare for the aging of the baby boom generation, people born from 1946-1964.
Phase one of KERI began in mid-2005 to collect and analyze background information on Kentucky’s baby boomers. Data ranged from the distribution of the aging population across the state to their social, health, economic, spiritual and other characteristics.
Regional focus groups and community forums included a broad array of consumers and providers, public and private interests and advocates. Findings from these meetings were incorporated into a survey sent to 9,600 Kentucky residents earlier this summer.
Reports on regional survey findings also will offer observations and recommendations communities may use to form the framework for development of effective local elder readiness initiatives.
“The first of the baby boomers turned 60 last year, marking the beginning of a rapid shift in Kentucky’s population,” Birdwhistell said. “As the aging population grows, virtually every aspect of life, commerce, labor, the economy and the demands on public services will also change dramatically.”
Kentucky is set to face an even bigger issue than most other states:
- Between 2000 and 2023, Kentucky will experience a 46 percent increase in the number of residents 85 and older.
- By 2020 more than 1 million Kentuckians will be older than 60 – about 23 percent of the population.
- Kentucky currently is ranked 27th in the nation in percentage of the total population older than 65. By 2020, Kentucky will have the 14th largest elder population in the nation.
“KERI’s goal is to help communities assess their readiness to maximize the potential of a rapidly aging population,” Birdwhistell said. “We want to encourage communities to focus on their unique strengths and weaknesses to determine the actions, policies and plans that best meet their specific needs.”
Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative: Phase two meetings schedule