Health and Family Services Cabinet
Elder readiness meeting reveals regional survey findings
Most Northern Kentucky 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 Northern Kentucky Area Development District office in Florence. 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.
"KERI has been and continues to be an invaluable tool to bring the needs of an aging Kentucky population into sharp focus," Governor Fletcher said. "Results from the phase two survey show that we must all work together to address issues that may hit seniors harder than most of the rest of the population, such as transportation, health and safety and employment."
"Baby boomer seniors have different needs and expectations than those of previous generations," Secretary Birdwhistell said. "For example, rather than playing bingo, many are telling us they want computers and fitness equipment in senior centers. The KERI survey is also showing that many baby boomers want or need to continue to work past retirement age. This is critical information for local communities and their leaders to rely on as they plan for the future.”
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 Northern Kentucky regional survey include:
§ More than 80 percent of survey respondents expect to live at home at age 75. The rate drops to 25 percent of baby boomers and 35 percent of older adults who expect to live at home at age 90. Most (27 percent) expect to live in assisted living facilities and 15 percent of baby boomers and 19 percent of older adults expect to live in nursing homes at age 90. Survey analysts said it may be important for communities to consider the implications of anticipated rapid growth in demand for nursing home and assisted living housing in coming years.
§ More than three-quarters of baby boomers and older adults have used area public parks in the past 12 months. An even higher percentage of both groups plan to use public parks in the future. These findings reinforce the need to ensure public parks are safe and accessible for older residents.
§ Efforts to increase employment options and develop residential options for elders and providing long-term support for people with disabilities and their aging caregivers were cited by respondents as the most important steps communities can take to better serve the current elder population and to prepare for the aging of the baby boom generation.
§ Northern Kentucky residents believe the aging of the baby boom generation will have a negative effect on housing, transportation, tax revenues, funding for services and caregiving for elders. By contrast, respondents believe the aging of the population will have a positive effect on employment, health care delivery, aging services, environmental design and government policies.
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 Northern Kentucky regional survey can be viewed at http://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/dail/kerisurveyreports.htm