Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Report gives insight into status of seniors in Solano County

Report gives insight into status of seniors in Solano County 6/24/2008

Demographic changes reflecting sharp increases in Solano County’s senior population will have broad and profound implications for the economic, health care, and social systems serving the county, according to a recent report on the status of seniors.

The Senior Coalition of Solano County, at the direction of the County Board of Supervisors, conducted a study on the social, economic, health and well-being of the senior population in Solano County. The Solano County Status Report on Seniors 2008 is the culmination of that study. The 130-page report is available online at www.solanocounty.com under Special Reports.

The status report highlights the local angle on the national story of the aging of the American population at unprecedented rates. “Never before in history has the number of older adults outnumbered the number of children under the age of five years old,” the report states.

By 2050, projected number of older adults in Solano County will increase 400 percent from the number in 2000, with those 85 and older increasing by 600 percent. The racial, ethnic and linguistic composition is likewise changing. By 2030, Caucasians will no longer be the majority in Solano County.

“The background and issues identified in the report provide the Board and other policymakers across the county with the basis for action plans,” said Supervisor Reagan. “The report also identifies what each one of us can do – personally and collectively – to improve the quality of life for seniors.”

Supervisor Reagan and Supervisor John Vasquez serve on the Board of Supervisors’ Senior Issues Committee.

Some of the findings about older adults in Solano County include:

• Delaying retirement, or returning to work, will become a necessity for many seniors. An estimated 19 percent of older adults do not have an income sufficient to meet their basic needs without assistance. The report estimates that 35 percent of older adult have incomes less than $25,000, which may be below minimum income levels needed to cover housing, transportation, health care and food costs as measured by an Elder Economic Security Index for Solano County.

• Many, but not all, of the challenges individuals face as they age can be remedied through proactive and preventative measures, such as eating fruits and vegetables, exercising daily and staying active in the community.

• Falls are the No. 1 cause of fatal injuries and non-fatal hospitalizations among older adults.

• Older adults in Solano County scored favorably when compared to national health objectives as set forth in Healthy People 2010, in proper nutrition, no smoking behavior, and health screenings. Considerable improvement needs to be made in physical activity levels and immunizations.

• Up to 30 percent of older adults in Solano County reported that they volunteer, which benefits the community as well as provides health benefits to the volunteer. The report encouraged efforts to expand the use of senior volunteers.

Recommendations in the status report fall into two categories: those for individuals, and those for communities and government. In general, individuals are advised to prepare for their retirement years and engage in healthy behaviors throughout their lives. Communities are advised to prepare for a shift in needed services and to provide opportunities for older adults to be fully engaged and active.