Workshop To Address Issues Regarding Aging Population
By Space Coast Daily // August 15, 2012
Meeting In Viera On Thursday
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Issues that concern an aging population in Brevard County, where more than a quarter of the population is 65 years and older, will be the focus of a 9 a.m. workshop hosted Thursday by the Board of County Commissioners.
The public workshop will be held in Building C of the Brevard County Government Center, 2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way in Viera.
It will include presentations from area organizations, county departments and local service agencies that directly address issues ranging from long-term care, nutrition, transportation, abuse, crimes and rights and legislative action related to seniors. The workshop is being coordinated by the Brevard Commission on Aging.
In Brevard County, seniors 65 years and older make up 27 percent of the population, which is 10 percent higher than the state average. Those 85 and older make up the fastest growing population in Brevard, and 13 percent of residents in the county today are 85-plus. By 2015, one in five people in Brevard County will be 65 or older.
“This is an issue I’m passionate about and am dealing with it, as many are, on a personal level,” said Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton. “When it comes to age today, you hear people say, ‘60 is the new 40.’ Well, 80 is the new 60 and 100 is the new 80. We are dealing with aging issues that have only been realized over the past century. When we stop to think that the U.S. average life expectancy in 1800 was 36, the average in 1900 was 47 and the average today is 80, we are faced with pressing aging issues never before experienced in history.”
Brevard County works with seniors through a number of different avenues, including Space Coast Area Transit for transportation needs, Parks & Recreation for senior centers and various classes/activities through the library system and Agricultural/Extension Service.
But, Tipton said, there are growing challenges being faced as the population ages, including increased EMS calls for seniors who have fallen, emergency management special needs shelters and evacuation of older residents who no longer can drive, and the need for planning and development codes that ensure the county is designing better/smarter communities that are close to the services seniors need to access and in homes that are senior friendly.
However, the issues go beyond county interactions.
“The health care industry needs to be well positioned for greater geriatric services. Nursing and assisted living facilities need to be properly positioned and affordable. Senior safety must be a priority for state and local agencies. Caregivers for seniors need training, support and assistance,” Tipton said. “As we become a more diverse community, addressing the different language and cultural issues will also be important. Non- profit coordination and cooperation to eliminate duplication of senior services is a must.”