According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the elderly now make up a larger share of the total population than at any other point since the government began tracking such data. The trend lines suggest that the demographic shift will only continue for the next several decades. According to the 2010 census, the “over 62” population grew by 21% in the previous decade. Conversely, the “under 18” population grew only 2.6%. Also, contrary to popular perception, the warm retirement meccas of the South and Southwest are actually not the most elderly dominated areas of the country. It is the Northeast with the largest shares of its population over sixty five. New York elder law attorneys know that the aging of our local communities will have many political, social, and legal implications.
The demographic shift is literally changing the feel of many area towns, cities, and villages. For example, the Star Advisor recently profiled Southbury, Connecticut–an aging town that is becoming a symbol of what many other locations in our area might soon become. Southbury is a seemingly picturesque suburb of about 20,000 residents. However, in a few years more than 40% of the town will be over the age of 65. Towns with that large of an elderly demographic have many different needs than other locations. For example, even though Southbury has only 20,000 citizens it already boasts a 4,000 resident Heritage Village senior living center, the Grace Meadows public housing complex for the elderly, three assisted living facilities, and two traditional nursing homes.
It is becoming increasingly clear that many parts of the country will soon require these extended networks of care choices for seniors. However, many observers have noted that we will likely face a shortage of senior living options–with more in need of certain assisted living choices than available beds and rooms. For local residents, the supply and demand disconnect will place increasing emphasis on having proper New York elder care planning in place to provide for one’s long-term care well before they are actually needed. This planning is frequently the difference between living in one of the nicer senior facilities with amenities or being forced into a less-than-ideal nursing facility.
The residents of Southbury, even with their relative affluence, still suggest that financial concerns are pressing. One seventy year old resident remarked, “People complain about money and tax issues, and if you don’t have enough for proper health care, eyeglasses, medicine, and all that, it’s a problem.” The elderly community members of Southbury also have a relative wealth of options, and even they have real living concerns. Residents continue to report that there is a shortage of affordable housing. For example, the town’s eighty eight unit senior public housing complex has a waiting list between three to four years long with a hundred and fifty individuals waiting to get a spot in the facility. Those waiting lists are expected to grow in the coming years–increasing even more the value of having an elder care plan in place years ahead of time.
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