Journeys Fall/Winter 2016 - Page 20

Cabarrus’ Vision for an Aging Population County strategically addresses changing demographics T By now, you’ve explored the pages of Journeys magazine and have some idea of what it offers older adults in Cabarrus County. But, do you know what planted the seed for the publication or who is behind it? Today’s senior citizens are working longer, living longer, and their needs are different from the generations before them. And, according to the U.S. Census, within the next 15 years, they are expected to make up almost 20 percent of Cabarrus County’s population—a percentage equal to the number of school-aged children in Cabarrus. Seniors in Cabarrus County (percentage of population) in 2030 In 2013, the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners asked County staff to develop a strategic plan for older adults and their families. A task force identified six priority focus areas, solicited public opinions on priorities through a community survey, set goals for the focus areas, and developed the Cabarrus County Aging Strategic Plan for 2015–2020. The six focus areas of the plan are education and information; housing and home improvement; health and wellness; recreation and entertainment; transportation and accessibility; and employment and income. County staff and representatives from local municipalities, faith-based groups, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations formed subcommittees for each focus area. The subcommittees met to discuss research, trends and challenges. “The breadth of needs for what we used to think of as the senior population is not the same,” Deputy County Manager Jonathan Marshall said. “What we found was there’s a huge demand for opportunities to stay in their homes longer, and participate in physical and social activities.” in 2010 By 2030, the percentage of adults ages 65 and older will be statistically equal to the percentage of school-aged children in Cabarrus County. 18 Cabarrus County Government decided to prepare. JOURNEYS Fall/Winter 2016 The County had already developed a comprehensive network of resources and programs to help seniors in each of the six focus areas, but the plan intensifies those efforts over a five-year span. Even with the added resources, the County will need help from