Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Study to help prepare for the aging of baby boomers
Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative to identify needs of rapidly aging population
FRANKFORT, Ky. - A dramatic nationwide demographic shift is projected within the next 25 years fueled by the famous baby boomer generation – the first of whom turn 60 next year.
Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced the launch of an intensive two-year statewide study to determine where Kentucky stands in its ability to meet the needs of a rapidly aging population. Speaking to media, community partners, elders, advocates and government leaders at a news conference at Frankfort’s King’s Daughters Apartments, an independent senior living facility, the governor said the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative is the first in-depth study of its kind since 1985. He said the initiative will seek to identify strengths and weaknesses in state and local, public and private elder services, supports, resources and accommodations.
Collaborating on the Elder Readiness assessment are the state Division of Aging Services in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Gerontology and the state’s 15 Area Development Districts’ Area Agencies on Aging.
“Our aging population calls for all of us to prepare for the challenge of ensuring that we serve our seniors with respect and dignity,” said Governor Fletcher. “To support those services, we must grow jobs and opportunity to attract a growing workforce.”
While the aging of the baby boomers will affect all states, the increase in Kentucky’s elderly population is projected to be much greater than for the nation as a whole.
Currently, 16 percent of Kentucky’s total population, or about 673,000 people, is older than 60. In 1995 Kentucky ranked 28th in proportion of elder residents. By 2025 Kentucky is predicted to have the 12th highest proportion of seniors in the United States.
By the year 2030, nearly one in four Kentuckians will be 65 or older. By 2050, more Kentuckians will be 65 and older than 18 and younger.
“As baby boomers age, issues such as retirement, financial security, health maintenance, long-term care, community planning, grief, loss and the impact on the workforce and economy will be at the forefront of our policy making agendas,” Governor Fletcher said. “The time is now to plan and prepare so our elders have the opportunity to age in place and enjoy the highest possible quality of life.”
The study will investigate and measure four broad domains: community resources, health and safety, life quality and community involvement. Findings from the study will provide the basis for an assessment of existing service and support assets, the status and capacity of health care service and delivery systems, and the degree to which elders and their families have choices and a say in determining their futures.
Methodology for the project includes an initial community survey followed by focus groups to refine, test and evaluate survey data. Then, the comprehensive, four-domain survey will be piloted in three demographically distinct areas of the state and further refined for distribution statewide. Once results of the statewide survey are compiled and analyzed, forums will be conducted in each of the 15 area development districts to report local survey findings.
On the community level, results of the study will help formulate a critical appraisal of the places where older Kentuckians and their families live and how well those cities, small towns, rural communities and local neighborhoods support desired lifestyles and respond to changing needs of a new generation of elders.
“We all want Kentucky to be a great place to grow up, to work and raise a family, but it’s just as important for Kentucky to be a great place to grow old, a place where seniors can flourish in caring communities,” Governor Fletcher said. “The Elder Readiness Initiative represents a big step toward that goal.”