Local News

Wake County Tries To Keep Up With Growing Number Of Senior Citizens

Posted June 23, 2006 7:13 a.m. EDT

— Wake County is estimating a big boom in senior citizens, thanks to the aging baby-boomer population. By 2020, the over-55 population is expected to increase by more than 160 percent.

Wake County Aging Plan

At 92 years old, Ethel Chaney is biking not driving, but she does not know for how much longer.

"My husband drives, thank goodness," she said. "We'll work it out somehow."

Wake County is working on meeting the critical needs of seniors. With the aging of the baby-boomer generation, a higher demand will be placed on county services and programs. For example, Wake County officials said for the adult-guardian program, the recommended ratio is 45 seniors to one staff member. At times, Wake County's ratio is 90 seniors to one staff member.

"It's not a crisis at this point, but with the aging people moving to this area, eventually it probably will be," said Miranda Strider-Allen with Resources for Seniors, Inc.

In 2002, the county started to plan for the growing needs of its new seniors. Six areas of concern were identified in an aging plan, including transportation. Nellie McLeod uses county buses five days a week. She said without them, she would be lost.

"I couldn't do nothing -- hire someone to carry me if I could afford it," McLeod said.

A coalition is in the process of implementing parts of the aging plan. Members are coming up with new programs and expanding others. But at such a rapid rate of growth, the human services department said an influx of money will be needed to help with the influx of seniors. The other issues identified in the report include health, personal care, safety, housing and economic self-sufficiency.

Some senior centers in Wake County have up to 35 new members a month. Right now, the city of Raleigh is doing a feasibility study to determine if it will build its own senior center. Garner, Chapel Hill and Cary have their own senior centers. A kickoff (one word)meeting is scheduled for July 13.