Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Advises Communities to Prepare for Growth of State's Aging Population
Louisville-area Elder Readiness Initiative survey results revealed at KIPDA meeting
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher urged an audience at a meeting of the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) in Jeffersontown to start preparing now for a sudden and significant increase in the population of Kentuckians age 60 and older.
Preliminary findings from the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative (KERI) show that most Kentuckians are unaware of the magnitude of the changes Kentucky will confront as a result of the aging of the Baby Boomers – the generation born after World War II.
“The Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative is about planning ahead,” Governor Fletcher said. “It’s about ensuring quality care, good doctors, hospitals and medical providers. But, just as important, KERI is about ensuring quality life for Kentucky’s future senior boomers.”
Focus groups and community forums were held during Phase I of KERI to gather feedback used to develop the survey for Phase II. Responses to the survey were analyzed to measure interest, expectations and perceptions about programs and services for aging residents and aging in general. Forums are being held around the state to announce the survey’s findings in specific regions.
Along with the governor, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell and Dr. Graham Rowles, the lead KERI investigator and director of the University of Kentucky Graduate Center for Gerontology, presented Kentuckiana area findings from the survey at the meeting today.
Governor Fletcher announced the elder readiness initiative in 2005 to raise awareness of the impending elder population boom. The first wave of baby boomers turned 60 last year.
Governor Fletcher encouraged those attending today’s forum to consider opportunities.
“Knowing this population shift is coming gives the state the chance to begin now to help communities plan and develop strategies to become friendly places where Kentuckians can retire and age in place while enjoying a robust quality of life,” Governor Fletcher said.
Other findings from the KIPDA regional survey include:
Nearly three-fourths of baby boomers surveyed said they worried about being prepared for retirement, and nearly a quarter of that age group said they never wanted to retire completely. Nearly a third of respondents 62 and older said they continued to work part or full time, and 69 percent said they planned to work during retirement – mainly because it was necessary to make ends meet. Other reasons included a desire to work and to retain health care and other benefits.
Nearly 40 percent of older adults who responded to the survey and 62 percent of baby boomers said they were unfamiliar with services available in their communities for people 60 and older.
KIPDA respondents believe the aging of the baby boom population will have a negative effect on housing, transportation, health care delivery, tax revenues, funding for services and care-giving for elders. By contrast, residents of the region believe the aging of the population will have a positive effect on government policies, aging services, employment and environmental design.
Most KIPDA residents expect to live in their current residences as they age. Nearly 70 percent of baby boomers and 87 percent of older adults said they expected to live in their own homes at age 90. Eleven percent of baby boomers and 10 percent of older adults said they expected to be living in a nursing home at age 90, while more than 30 percent of baby boomers and older adults said they expected to be in assisted living. Survey analysts said the latter finding suggested that the need for affordable variations of this popular housing option would increase in the KIPDA region.
The KERI survey was based on input gathered at regional focus groups and community forums during Phase I of the initiative. Survey questions addressed concerns raised by a broad array of consumers and service providers, public and private interests and advocates. The survey was distributed to 9,600 Kentucky residents earlier this summer.
Data from the KERI KIPDA regional survey can be viewed at http://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/os/dail/kerisurveyreports.htm.