FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kelly Taft, APR
PHOENIX (February 13, 2012) – Meeting the needs of an exploding senior population that wants to “age in place” will be the focus of a regional forum February 15th that will feature local and national experts in aging services. More than 200 people have registered for the event, which follows a year-long series of focus groups to determine how the needs of older adults have changed in the past 10 years.
The Municipal Aging Services Project event, Planning for the Next 100 Years, runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 N. 3rd St., North Building, Room 129.
The region’s population aged 65 years and more is expected to double by 2020 to more than 700,000 people, according to analysis conducted by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG). Through the aging services project, leaders and service providers are preparing for this significant increase in the region’s older population.
“This impending surge in our senior population demands that we plan ahead,” stated MAG Chair and Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman. “We have a lot of work to do to accommodate this growth, not only in preparing to meet the needs of people aged 65 years and more, but also in harnessing the talents of this experienced population. The recession and the changing demographics of older adults make this a complex but important task.”
MAG is leading the planning effort through the MAG Municipal Aging Services Project, with support from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust. The goal of the project is to determine the most effective role for local government in meeting the needs of older adults by working in partnership with nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations, and others.
Phoenix Councilmember Michael Nowakowski, who chairs the MAG Human Services Coordinating Committee, says people aged 65 years and more have driven the aging services project. “We conducted 135 interviews, held 19 focus groups with more than 200 people, and distributed more than 1,000 surveys,” he said. “Respondents indicated a preference for continuing to live in their home as they age. This may mean that their homes need to be retrofitted and that services need to be provided to help them live independently.”
Joanne Osborne, vice mayor of Goodyear and vice chair of the MAG Human Services Coordinating Committee, said the safety net that helps people live in their homes has been eroding. “We face serious challenges in preparing for the future,” she said. “Two years ago, we surveyed local governments and found that funding to support senior services had been significantly reduced. Yet the recession has meant many older adults no longer can provide for all of their needs.”
The forum will feature local and national experts and will reveal findings regarding how much money seniors require to live without government assistance. In addition, Mayor Hallman will make an announcement of the region’s participation in a significant national pilot project that will continue the work generated by this project.
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