By 2030 – just 13 years from now –those age 60 and older in Cuyahoga County will grow from 21% to 31% of the population. In the wider region, that percentage will grow to 40%. For the first time ever, the percentage of older residents will be larger than the percentage of those under age 20.
These figures, reported on February 9th, 2017 by Freshwater Cleveland, signal a need to shift in community attention and priorities, according to some. Poverty rates among seniors in the county are as high as 38.7% in some areas, further complicating the problem. Organizations that serve seniors are already struggling to meet the growing demand, especially those that assist with food and housing needs. Ohio ranks among the ten worst states in the nation for food insecurity among seniors, and is the worst in the Midwest. In terms of housing, private sector developers report that they cannot keep up with the demand for senior nursing homes, assisted living communities, and independent senior apartments.
Yet, area nonprofits point out that little is being done to prepare for the “silver tsunami” that is bearing down on the region. “We need to get our heads out of the sand and realize we have a major issue on the horizon,” said Richard Jones, director of Cuyahoga County Senior Adult Services. “Our community needs to recognize that older persons helped build a strong city and county,” he says. “They worked hard all their lives. There is a moral and ethical imperative that we make sure they live their lives with dignity and purpose, and feel valued as persons who have made contributions over their lifetimes.”
Communities across the country face similar challenges. Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC, (ACS) is proud to partner with the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York (HFWCNY), which sparks lasting change in health and health care across western and central New York with a special focus on young children, older adults and the systems serving them.