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Senior forum Wednesday to discuss aging population

July 28, 2008

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

By 2020, there will be more retirees in Wright County than school children, and by 2030, the number of people over the age of 65 in Wright County will triple.

Statistics like this are why a group of Delano citizens are organizing a senior forum to continue preparation for this “age wave” shift in population.

By 2011, the large baby boom generation – born between 1946 and 1964 – will begin to turn 65 and, for the next 25 years, the aging of the population will dominate the demographic landscape.

According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, such a major shift in the age of population has never happened before. That is why policy makers here and around the world have set a target date of 2010 – the last year before the baby boom generation begins to turn 65 – to have some plans in place for dealing with the effects of the aging population.

“People approaching retirement age or newly-retired should be most interested in attending this forum,” Delano Senior Center Coordinator Gail Sinkel said. The forum in Delano will look at what the aging community will look like in 10 to 15 years, what services those people can expect, and where funding may come from to provide services to these people.

“It takes a while to get things rolling – we might as well get started early,” commented Delano senior Dorothy Tulkki.

Issues such as senior housing, safety, mobility, and the volunteer workforce are all going to be affected and experience changes in the years to come. This forum will provide the opportunity to discuss the challenges, issues, and opportunities that are in the future.

“You have to get people thinking about the future and how it is going to impact not only the older people – it’s going to impact the younger people who are still working – the workforce is going to change,” Sinkel said “Just the awareness before it actually happens.”

The idea to have such a forum in Delano has been kicked around since March or April, with the idea stemming from changes that took place at Ridgeview Medical Center, as well as several community-based service meetings that have taken place.

“Delano was one that just kind of took it and ran with it,” Sinkel said.

Delano resident Harlan Lewis has also played a big part in “getting the ball rolling” for the forum and planning for the future.

Lewis said getting people involved who are in the “sandwich generation” – those who are sandwiched between taking care of not only their own children, but their parents, as well, can be challenging.

Speakers lined up for the forum include Lori Vrolson of the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, who will present information on Wright County demographics and future aging statistics; Mike Phelps from Ridgeview Medical Center and Ridgeview Delano Clinic, Ann Benson of Wright County Human Services, Ernie Gershone of Golden Living Center, Wright County Commissioner Jack Russek, Delano Mayor Joe McDonald, and Delano City Administrator Phil Kern.

The forum will take place Wednesday, July 30 from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Delano Senior Center. Registration is requested by calling (763) 972-0574.

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