Health and Family Services Cabinet
Survey out now will measure state’s readiness for aging boom; Selected households strongly urged to complete, return questionnaire
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 24, 2007) – Kentucky is facing a boom of aging baby boomers – and it’s your turn to help determine how prepared communities are to deal with it.
The first of the baby boomer generation, people born from 1946-1964, turned 60 last year. The numbers show Kentucky may experience the population shift even more so than 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.
Earlier this month, the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative launched phase two of the project, mailing a survey to nearly 10,000 randomly selected Kentucky households. KERI researchers are collecting and analyzing survey data to help citizens and communities determine where they stand - as well as where they want to be - in their level of readiness to serve the needs of aging baby boomers.
“I can’t overstate how important it is for families and individuals to complete and return these KERI surveys,” said Mark D. Birdwhistell, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “The responses we receive from this survey will form the basis for planning and preparation on the state and local level as we ready our communities for the coming aging boom.”
The survey addresses four broad topic areas: community resources; health and safety; quality of life; and involvement in the community. The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and must be returned by June 30.
KERI is a joint effort among the state Department for Aging and Independent Living in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the University of Kentucky Graduate Center on Gerontology and the state’s 15 Area Agencies on Aging.
In the first phase of KERI, regional forums and focus groups were used to establish readiness baselines and identify aging issues of general interest and concern across the state. The survey will help better refine community-level information about local strengths and weaknesses in efforts to serve elder residents.
Graham Rowles, Ph.D., director of the UK Graduate Center for Gerontology, said those who respond to the survey will be helping to chart a course for the future of their communities.
“Preliminary findings from our early focus groups suggest that most Kentuckians are unaware of the scope of changes Kentucky will experience in the coming decade and beyond,” he said. “We hope KERI will empower communities to create sustainable services and programs that support elders and their families and to have those amenities in place before demand outpaces capacity.”
Kentucky is among the states predicted to experience the largest increase in its proportion of elder residents. In addition, Kentucky will face added challenges due to the poor health status of many older Kentuckians.
Rowles also noted that Kentucky can turn some challenges into opportunities, however, by beginning to plan and prepare now for the coming population shift and by finding out what Kentuckians expect and need in terms of services and accommodations as they age. He said many of those services are likely to focus on health and wellness programs as a way for older residents to remain independent and enjoy a rich quality of life for as long as possible.
Another series of regional meetings will be held this summer to present the findings of the phase two surveys.
For more information about KERI, contact the Department for Aging and Independent Living by calling 502-564-6930 or visit the KERI Web site at http://www.mc.uky.edu/gerontology/keri.htm.