|A Needs Assessment of Older Adults in the Tri-County Area Version:February 25, 2010|
The Southeast Michigan population is aging rapidly. The proportion of older adults residing in the tri-county region will nearly double in the next 20 years. By 2030, nearly 1 in 4 area residents will be age 65 or older, and nearly 2 out of every 5 households will include an older member. In 20 years there will be well over a quarter of a million senior citizens living alone in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties, most of whom will be age 75 or older. Households headed by seniors have a median income about 2/3 of that of households in general. Nearly 14% of area seniors live at or below the edge of poverty, a condition of severe need. About 2 out of every 5 older adults in the area have some form of disability, including mobility, sensory, cognitive, and self-care limitations. As the senior population grows, the need for supportive services to help older people stay in their homes and maintain their independence will grow along with it. The graying of the baby boomers will result in dramatic changes in the characteristics and needs of our Michigan residents. Adapting to those changes will affect policies, programs, and services across the board within our community. The failure to adapt will erode the quality of life of not only senior citizens but all residents; we must not be caught unprepared for this unprecedented population shift.
The United Way for Southeastern Michigan Senior Regional Collaborative conducted a study involving over a dozen focus groups of aging services clients around the region, as well as a survey of agencies that provide aging services. The results of this study, contained in this report, suggest that transportation is a major concern for seniors, and that the ability to live independently for those who do not drive is severely compromised by a lack of transit alternatives in the area. The cost and quality of health care continues to be an ever-present issue in the lives of older adults, and steps to deliver medical services more courteously, conveniently, and affordably will positively impact the well-being of seniors in our area. Supporting older people in the community as they age requires a range of services to help them maintain their households, repair aging homes, protect their safety and security, and preserve their health. Isolation and loneliness also threaten the well-being of the older population, and the availability of social outlets for seniors is an important factor in their engagement and activity in the community. Despite efforts by the aging network to do so, older adults think more can be done to raise awareness of available aging services. All of these findings point to a need for greater funding for aging services as the older population grows.