Health and Family Services Cabinet
Lincoln Trail elder readiness meeting reveals regional survey findings
FRANKFORT, KY (Aug. 15, 2007) – Most Lincoln Trail area residents are aware that the aging of the baby boomers (people current 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 Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown. 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.
“Kentucky is approaching a major crossroads in terms of the demographic makeup of our state,” Governor Fletcher said. “The Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative is positioning us for the future by helping us launch communities’ planning for this significant population shift.”
“Our journey began last summer when hundreds of Kentuckians participated in 30 focus groups and 15 community forums,” Birdwhistell said. “Our next step, the KERI survey, helps us better define how Kentuckians view the issues communities face, such as ensuring adequate health care opportunities, transportation and employment 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 Lincoln Trail regional survey include:
Redefining the role of senior centers was considered either very important or somewhat important by more than 90 percent of those responding. 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. Fewer than 20 percent of respondents 62 and older said they had used senior centers in the past 12 months, although a higher rate of all respondents said they plan to use senior centers in the future.
Lincoln Trail respondents believe the aging of the baby boom generation will have negative effects on government policies, aging services, health care delivery, tax revenues and funding for services. By contrast, they said the aging of the baby boomers presents opportunities for progress in employment, environmental design, housing and transportation.
More than two-thirds of those responding to the survey said their communities do not have public transportation. More than half the baby boomers and 43 percent of older adults said their public transportation needs will increase as they age.
Long-term support programs for people with disabilities and their aging caregivers was the answer most often given by all respondents when asked which of several options they considered most important in preparing for the aging of the baby boom population. Other popular responses were: increasing employment options for elders; emphasizing developing residential options for elders; and emphasizing developing business and second-career options.
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 Lincoln Trail regional survey can be viewed at http://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/dail/kerisurveyreports.htm.