The graying of America is stretching local tax dollars.
More often today, paramedics respond to emergency calls and find an older person who has fallen, broken a bone or suffered a heart attack. Another issue affecting elders is the increasing number of elder-abuse cases and crimes targeting senior citizens. Also, in some areas, greater amounts of money have to be allotted to government buses that take seniors to exercise classes; other areas have more social workers helping families determine how to care for aging loved ones. And on and on.
The rising demand for services for the elderly is taking a toll on local governments, as communities nationwide seek to accommodate a growing senior citizen population while still tending to schools, roads, parks and other needs. It is estimated that by 2030, 1 out of 5 U.S. residents will be 65 or older.
At the same time, federal funding for senior citizen programs has decreased by about 19 percent since 2010, according to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging with expectations of shrinking even further under the current administration. As baby boomers enter into stages of greater dependency, policy experts say battles over spending, services and zoning will worsen.
A huge concern is the rising demand for assisted living centers and nursing homes; proposals for new or expanded facilities have sparked major zoning battles and concerns over the cost of and effect on roads, sewers, and other services. Communities in the past were not designed for aging residents even though the vast majority of people want to stay in their communities as they age.
Counties today are also dealing with the deteriorating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, requiring social workers to help patients find support groups, long-term care and transportation. Government funding isn’t always going to be there, necessitating more programs and especially more volunteers to step in as the elderly population continues to grow.
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