The middle-agers are coming of age, which means a large section of the population is now approaching or in retirement. An older demographic means a different atmosphere for many cities and most of all, different needs. Housing, transport options and community service needs are not the same for senior citizens as they are for, say, families or middle-age professionals. Making sure cities are able to properly provide senior citizens is important. With the population bubble of middle-agers attaining retirement age, the number of 65 and older is expected to grow; all the while, growth in the under-24 age bracket is reducing.
Economist Charles Colgan talked recently in Wells, observing that the quickest growing section of the population usually is the 65 years and older. Maine is not alone in dealing with an aging inhabitants, of course, and to that end, the AARP and World Health Organization have been working to make the Global Network of Age Friendly Communities. Regionally, Saco is positioned to become the area’s first such group. The town started this process with an evaluation of its present condition and what could be done to make the town more “age friendly.” Topics up for conversation included community contribution, health employment, interaction, outdoor areas, transport and real estate, among others. By gathering to evaluate the present condition of the town in regards to elderly people, the town is taking a practical advancement in being an eye-catching place for individuals to come and stop working and perhaps even more important, for long-time residents to age in place.
Simple developments like including more bus runs to and from food markets and medical care facilities, street developments and wheelchair-accessible community areas can make a big difference in enhancing individuals’ total well being. Bigger changes like cost-effective senior housing and cost-effective assisted living centers can also allow senior citizens to remain in their communities even after they can no longer care for a single-family home. Making these accommodations, especially in assisted living centers, not only makes the community more pleasant to them, but also to their loved ones. Improvements such as those community areas and transport also benefit the entire community.