Are we ready for aging in Olmsted County?
As Ken Aalderks prepares for his 70th birthday, he said he knows he's not alone.
Olmsted County's population is aging. According to an early draft of Rochester's new comprehensive plan, nearly 1 in 3 Rochester residents will be older than 60 by 2040.
That's up from less than 1 in 5 in 2010.
Countywide, census estimates indicate the percentage of residents 65 and older has risen from 12.6 percent in 2010 to 14.7 percent last year.
"This is going to be a problem," Aalderks said, noting the aging population will increase demand on a variety services to keep people as independent as possible, from snow removal to health care.
In order to start discussions aimed at finding solutions, the First Presbyterian Church Social Concerns Committee is holding its 10th Forums @ First event next week. The title is "Following the Boom: Are We Ready for Aging in Olmsted County?"
The event is from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the church, 512 Third St. SW.
Aalderks, a committee member. said the group has invited a panel of people already dealing with related concerns, but it also expects elected officials and others in the audience to speak up.
"We have some people that will enter into the discussion," he said.
Dan Jensen, associate director of Olmsted County Public Health Services, will be part of the panel and said he hopes the conversation will help engage more of the community in an effort to address concerns.
"We can work more as a community across the entire community," he said.
One of the greatest concerns Jensen sees as the population ages is a need for more home-care providers. He said the positions are hard to fill because pay often is low when compared to the responsibility and stress the job entails.
"It's a system problem that I would like to see us be able to address," he said.
Aalderks said he hopes Tuesday's forum also will encourage younger generations to become involved and prepare for future needs.
"Those in their 50s, 40s and 30s have an opportunity to step up," he said.