The city of Longmont has been conducting a comprehensive review of how it funds human service agencies serving its residents. Public meetings, data and trend reviews and community dialogue have all been part of this process. In view of this city initiative and its potential implications, Via would like to share the results of a just released survey that could impact the decision making on these community issues.
On July 30, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) released the results of a national survey with pertinent and relevant information regarding needs of the “tidal wave” of older adults to hit the nation. In its second year, the United States of Aging Survey, conducted by NCOA, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today, explores what underlies American seniors’ perspectives on aging and how the country can better prepare for a booming senior population. Like many cities across the nation, the city of Longmont will be significantly impacted by the growing population of older adults. Indeed, Longmont has the fastest growing low-income older adult population in Boulder County.
Two key findings of the survey are relevant to the current community dialogues and decisions.
Seniors across all audiences believe their communities should make more investments in transportation, health care services and housing. “Better transportation options” was the highest rated investment choice in the survey, surpassing health care and housing. This largely corresponds to the study’s findings that seniors are driven by a desire for connectedness. More than half of seniors (53%) nationally indicate that being close to friends and family is the most important factor contributing to their outlook on quality of life, physical and mental health and getting the most from their “golden years.”
The 2013 survey comprised 4,000 telephone interviews, including nationally representative samples of Americans ages 60 and older and adults ages 18-59. Another key finding was that while a majority of seniors agree their community is responsive to senior needs, one in two seniors believe their community is not doing enough to prepare for the future needs of the growing senior population. Interestingly, 45% of adults ages 18-59 also do not believe their community is doing enough to prepare for the future needs of the older adult population.
As an avid advocate for the older adults, people with disabilities and others living with mobility limitations we serve as well as the collective human service safety net, and in light of the results of the NCOA study, Via strongly supports enhanced investment in transportation options as well as services that enhance independence and self-sufficiency for this population. Seniors will need long-term, and varied, solutions to transportation and needed services if they are to stay engaged in the community and connected to family and friends.
Longmont’s human services need an infusion of resources, not a reduction. Not only to ensure vulnerable populations have access to necessary services, but especially to ensure the city’s older adults have the services they need to stay engaged in a community that values inclusiveness. We will all be older someday. It is time to prepare for the future.
Lenna Kottke, Executive Director