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Is Boulder County prepared for Silver Tsunami?

The Denver Post’s March 30 front-page article “Turning Grey”was a compelling look at the seismic demographic shifts in the older adult population occurring in seven suburban counties outside of Denver. 

“Everything will be impacted, from tax revenues to transportation for older adults who can’t drive any longer but still live in suburbs built for cars. Policymakers and planners will need to retrofit their communities with transportation, housing and land-use patterns that help people keep their independence for as long as possible, particularly after age 75 when frailty begins to increase, ” wrote Colleen O’Connor.

In Boulder County, the article’s research projected that from 2010 to 2020 the senior population will increase by 74 percent (from 29,500 to 51,200) and will become 18 percent of the county’s total population. By 2030, it is estimated that percentage will increase to 25 percent of Boulder County’s total population.

While the projections seem cataclysmic, they are not news to us at Via. Since 2005, Via has conducted strategic growth scenario planning based on demographic projections. Via has developed innovative programs to expand transportation and mobility options as well as expanded service in all communities. However, the growth of the older adult population, particularly in Longmont, is exceeding our capacity to serve.

Longmont has the fastest growing low-income older adult and disabled populations in Boulder County with the fewest transportation options available per capita. In 2013, Via served almost 1,100 Longmont mobility-impaired individuals, a 24-percent increase over the previous year. 2013 statistics indicate that Via now serves as many Longmont residents as Boulder residents–a dramatic shift in the demographics of our target populations.  

The silver tsunami is here.  Via cannot address these issues alone. As The Denver Post article so clearly stated, collective community planning to address the impact of those “turning grey” can no longer wait.

 

Mary Cobb, Director of Communications

Mary Cobb