There’s been talk for some time about the wave of baby boomers that are entering their golden years and the impacts that bubble will have on local communities but it always felt like it was somewhere out there over the horizon. I’m thinking somewhere is now.
It turns out we’re already in the midst of that senior wave, it’s just a slow roller so I don’t think we necessarily recognize the waters rising around us.
They say if you put a frog in a boiling pot he’ll hop right out, but turn the heat up slowly and the frog will never realize what a mess he’s got himself into until it’s too late. We don’t want to be that frog, so after the recent senior housing dilemma in Kent we’re working hard to have plenty of cooler pots to jump into.
Its been reported that all but 5 seniors have moved into new housing with the sale of the Silver Oaks property, and those 5 remaining residents have secured housing that they will move into in January 2012. So the immediate housing relocation crisis appears to be passed but the lesson remains to start planning since none of us are getting any younger.
As a matter of fact, that point really hit home when I saw some recent data that illustrated the aging patterns in Ohio. Not surprisingly Ohio’s baby boomers mirror the national pattern.
Pretty compelling data with a great visual showing the movement of the boomers into their later years. The question for us is are we prepared for them, and their housing needs, their health service needs, their economic needs, their security, etc.
When the bubble is relatively small, we can handle the demand but as it grows so significantly, we need to be ramping up as well. Yet, with the economy circling in a holding pattern overhead (which for the record is far better than crash landings that some communities have had to deal with) the question is how do we expand our service base to meet the changing needs of our customers.
It’s always dangerous to lump population segments into categories but it’s pretty clear that as we all get older, we’ll need a little more help and we recognize that we need to be stitching together that bigger community safety net right now so it’s ready when the bubble lands.
To that end, the staff has really started to dig into gaining a better understanding of senior living and senior quality of life expectations. It’s early yet but it seems to me that senior housing and senior public health are likely to be the two most significant areas of City engagement. The good new is that there are natural partners out there for both of those areas so we plan to work as collaboratively as possible to leverage expertise and dollars wherever possible.
Interestingly, seniors are often attracted to university cities and the amenities that they offer so we think Kent is potentially uniquely positioned to serve seniors. If we get this right, I think it will really secure the stability of the Kent community for decades.
More work will follow these topics but I thought it was worth noting that there’s been a re-focusing of efforts to prepare for the arrival of the baby boomers in their prime and after.