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Preparing for an aging county
On behalf of the board of directors, staff, volunteers and members of Senior Services of Island County, I want to thank the Board of Island County Commissioners for the recent proclamation of May 2010 as Older Americans Month.
As we witness the tremendous contributions of the elders in our communities, we also anticipate tremendous growth in the number of those 65 and older living in Island County communities. According to the State of Washington, Office of Financial Management, the percentage of Island County residents over 65 will move from 14 percent in 2000 to 21 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2030. Comparatively, King, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties will move from somewhere between 9 and 14 percent in 2000 to somewhere between 19 and 21 percent in 2030.
In 2006, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging in collaboration with Metropolitan Life, recommended 10 ways communities can prepare for the aging population boom or “Age Wave,” as it has been tagged. These include increasing preventative health care, nutrition education, age-appropriate fitness programs and recreational facilities, safe driving assistance, special planning and training for public safety personnel and other first responders, home modification programs, tax assistance, job training and re-training along with lifelong learning, community engagement opportunities, and a single point of access for all aging information and services in the community.
Senior Services of Island County currently provides many of these services. We view the challenges ahead as tremendous opportunities for innovation and collaboration among public agencies, community-based organizations, service clubs, churches, and other groups and individuals.
We look forward to working with the board of commissioners and many others to forge both innovation and collaboration on behalf of those 60 and over during the years ahead.