You often hear families talk about finding a good place for their kids to grow up but is your community a good place to grow old?
It’s a question that needs some serious thought, especially since baby boomers will soon be joining the ranks of the elderly.
Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. The first of the baby boomers began turning 60 in 2006. Now the country is realizing this large segment has changing needs that must be addressed.
Last August, the community was asked to come together and think about the future. It was part of the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative. The purpose is to find strengths and weaknesses to deal with the rapidly growing elderly population.
“With this it becomes a blueprint for our community to get started making preparations for our baby boomers,” said Debbie McCarty, director of Aging Services for the Barren River Area Development District. McCarty’s office focuses on the needs of seniors and the growing needs of baby boomers.
“Baby boomers ... they speak out if they want certain things, they’re gonna be advocates for certain things,” McCarty said.
Transportation is one of the things McCarty said will be a big focus. She said more handicapped accessible sidewalks will be needed. She also said there will have to be a lot of changes to our roads including additional turning lanes to help seniors who cross through heavy traffic.
“The signs, the road signs ... larger fonts ... eyes start to go ... help elderly and people with vision problems,” McCarty said.
The Medical Center’s vice president of administration said they are also planning ways to accommodate an aging population.
“Even things as simple as readouts on the medical equipment used every day, an aging workforce, size of the screen, details we need to consider,” McCarty said.
And what about the workforce?
Betsy Kullman, Chief Nursing Officer at The Medical Center, said nursing is one field where more flexible schedules may be required.
“As nurses are aging, it’s harder for them to work the 12 hour shifts. The younger generation loves it because they work three days and have the rest of the week off till they come back,” Kullman said.
Regina Byrd is 54-years-old and falls right in the middle of the baby boomer generation. She said one of the trends she expects to happen is in the housing industry.
“I’m seeing more of my generation downsize their houses. They’re thinking of moving to retirement villages,” Byrd said.
More nursing homes, more retirement villages, smaller homes, all changes expected to take place as baby boomers age.
It’s something development districts across the state will continue to prepare for.
“I think they have the vision. All the communities to make places a good place to grow up in and grow old in,” Governor Fletcher said.
Last month Fletcher announced a new agency focusing on aging and disability issues. The Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative will continue this year as they release findings from their survey on the challenges facing an aging Kentucky.
For more information on aging and services offered in our area, call 270-781-2381.