Senior citizens represent a growing portion of the population across the nation. In Frederick County, this age group is anticipated to grow twice as fast as the nation as a whole, twice as fast as the State of Maryland, and, even twice as fast as the State of Florida.
As the Baby Boomers reach retirement age, Frederick County is facing what some call the “Silver Tsunami.” By the year 2030, the number of people who are at least 60 years old are expected to more than double in Frederick County. In fact, since 2000, the population of people over the age of 60 has grown by 80%. Over the next 25 years, the 85 and older age group will nearly quadruple.
To give the numbers some perspective, consider that after the next 4 years, Frederick County will be home to more people over age 60 than school-aged children. This major shift in demographics is why County Executive Jan Gardner made seniors one of the 4 key priority areas for her administration, along with education, jobs, and community needs.
In the beginning of her administration, Executive Gardner appointed four Leadership Teams, one for each priority area. Each team was charged with developing ideas, establishing priorities, and setting objectives for their topic area. The intent was to lay a foundation and create a blue print for her four-year plan.
The Seniors Leadership Team considered what citizens in this rapidly growing age group may want to stay active and need in terms of services and support. It is important to recognize that people age differently, so specific wants and needs will vary greatly. Active, healthy seniors want to stay active and have an opportunity to engage in the community. Offering their skills, knowledge, expertise, and life experience to the community at large, they may want to continue to work -- part-time or from time to time.
Those who are less healthy, but still living at home, will need ways to socialize and gain access to health care services. The frailest will require more daily assistance and support. The specific needs vary, but the general categories of concerns identified by the Seniors Leadership Tem were the same for everyone: wellness, quality of life, adequate and affordable housing, health care, and access to transportation options.
When Executive Gardner appointed the Seniors First Committee in October 2015, the diverse committee included individuals with a range of experiences in senior services, health care, non-profits, education, business, the faith community, and community advocacy as well as county staff from Citizens Services, Department of Aging, Social Services, and the Health Department (specifically AERS – Adult Evaluation and Review Services).
The Seniors First Committee was tasked to make recommendations on how the county should structurally organize and deliver services, review the Needs Assessment of the Aging Population (executive summary) that was completed in 2013, and Implement the action items in the needs assessment.
The Seniors First Report was released to the public during Executive Gardner's public information briefing on November 28, 2016.