Sunday, June 1, 2008


According to social analysts, Northeast Florida's senior population is expected to grow by 66 percent in the next fifteen years. This population boom will bring with it exciting opportunities, but also challenges with regard to the increased demand for services. - United Way of NE Florida.

I read this recently on my local United Way web site. The ramifications of this growth spurt in the older adult community are going to be huge, especially for the family caregiver. The resources available today are limited as it is. There are waiting lists for long term care diversion programs, for beds in LTC facilities, Meals on Wheels, you name it. The time to start addressing this is now (or yesterday?) and I'm happy to find that the United Way is addressing the issue with a program called Life - Act 2, a council made up of corporate, private and public entities that fund senior service programs. The council has established three goals to begin addressing the issue:

  1. To elicit a culture shift in the way the Northeast Florida community views and values seniors.
  2. To integrate medical admission and discharge processes with our community's social service system.
  3. To strengthen the continuum of services available to our community's seniors.
Some of the accomplishments of the council since it was established in April of 2002 are:
  • The number of frail seniors on a waiting list for home delivered meals has been cut in half
  • Over $1 million new dollars have been leveraged to invest in senior services
  • Over $200,000 have been invested in community intergenerational activities
  • Over $50,000 have been invested to create or expand 10 neighborhood projects designed to engage seniors in meaningful community activities
It's a good start but it's going to take dedication and effort from public, private and corporate entities as well as faith communities working together to find solutions. I get really bugged by the way every little thing is portrayed as a crisis by politicians and the media, but I'm afraid that this lack of programs and services to help folks care for their aging loved ones might actually become a real crisis.

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