This demographic does not want to age in isolation
Shoreview, MN (PRWEB) August 24, 2007
http://www.ecumen.org - Aging services provider Ecumen, Minnesota's largest non-profit senior housing company, is encouraging cities to embrace strategies of creating livable communities for all ages as the United States faces an unprecedented demographic shift.
Kathryn Roberts, Ecumen's CEO & president, described this strategy in her editorial piece "The Age Wave, Successful Aging and Liveable Communities" published August 10th in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It looks at how the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul need to prepare for a much older population.
"The Twin Cities area, like other communities nationwide, has an unprecedented opportunity to create communities that promote successful aging," states Roberts.
Where the challenge, and opportunity, lies in the age wave, as articulated by Minnesota state demographer Tom Gillaspy, is that our population is aging in record numbers.
"These things usually creep along at the speed of a glacier," states Gillaspy. "Not so with aging. In demographic terms, this is a tsunami."
Solutions must take into account that there is far more at stake than simple logistics of infrastructure. To ensure success, vibrant communities that support the notion of creating home wherever one chooses to live must be developed in fairly rapid fashion.
Members of the Silent Generation and Baby Boom Generation represent the most educated, technologically connected, discerning group of seniors our nation has ever seen. Many communities nationwide, including the Twin Cities metro, are unprepared for what this group will desire as they age.
"This demographic does not want to age in isolation," continues Roberts. "They want to be near family and friends, easy-access transportation, health care, learning, exercise, shopping, worship places and other gathering hubs that feed the mind, body and soul."
Communities such as Atlanta are beginning to develop solutions. In response to their age wave, the city's regional commission has formed Aging Atlanta, with more than 50 public, private and nonprofit partners. It has surveyed metro Atlantans 55 and older to see how they view aging and how they plan to live.
Atlanta is an example of a community that is embracing aging and planning ahead, but here is still a great deal of work to do in preparing nationally for the aging of America.
"Aging is not partisan," concludes Roberts. "We all do it. And if we do this right, we should all benefit from it."
Ecumen (http://www.ecumen.org) is based in Shoreview, Minn., and is one of the largest non-profit senior housing companies in the United States. In addition to owning senior housing communities, it provides senior housing management and senior housing development services for others. The name Ecumen comes from the word ecumenical, which in turn is derived from the Greek word for home: "Oikos." Ecumen works to create "home" for older adults wherever they choose to live. Ecumen is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and has 4,000 team members. Ecumen's "Changing Aging" blog is located at http://www.ecumen.org/changing-aging/.