"A proactive response to our community's increased number of seniors"
provides the seventh installation of a series by BACC directors connecting foresight analysis to life in our community
“The disconnect between Maine’s aging population and its need for young workers to care for that population is expected to be mirrored in states throughout the country over the coming decade, demographic experts say. And that’s especially true in states with populations with fewer immigrants, who are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly, statistics show,” Jeff Stein “‘
This will be catastrophic’: Maine families face elder boom, worker shortage in preview of nation’s future
, August 14, 2019.
BACC Board Member Jamie Lynch, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Strategic Research Institute, St. Norbert College, noted in a January 2019 presentation to the BACC Board of Directors that 23 percent of greater Green Bay population was age 55 or over and that by 2040, 32 percent, nearly one of every three people, will be over age 55. As we reflected on these statistics that are higher than the national norm, we nodded in agreement as we surveyed the age demographic of our own Board and the impact of care and support for senior aged individuals which many of us have born.
I was reminded of Jamie’s presentation and linkages between Maine’s situation and some of our own challenges. Maine, as the tip of the US iceberg, is ready to plow into all of the states in our country in the next few decades. The national numbers don’t lie. The number of older adults over 65 is projected to double by the year 2050. What will this mean to our economy, our need for enhanced technology, our political landscape?
Future family caregivers, who thought government dollars were what was needed to care for their aging parents, will be affected by the declining number of younger workers to serve in the care industry. In Maine, the oldest state in our nation, family caregivers are taking second jobs to help pay for skyrocketing care. States with low immigration rates will struggle the most. And, without workers, nursing homes, the proverbial safety net, can’t keep their doors open. The fines for inadequate care and not meeting staffing ratios along with low reimbursement rates have forced a trend of closure. In Brown County, we have seen such closures in the past two years-a signal indeed.
If we are going to see a preferred future for our aging population, reinventing how we think about financing long term care and attracting and training caregivers will be imperative. Applying technology is also key; imagine camera surveillance in homes to help monitor seniors’ sleeping, eating, medication, and motion patterns. Robotic personal care may come, as caregivers miss work, develop mental health issues, struggle to care for their children or afford their education as a 30 year caregiving role is thrust upon them.
How can Brown County build a preferred future? Where do we start?
Creating a Livable Community
, as defined by AARP, is one way to get the ball rolling . With an overall index score of 58, Brown County can do better. Attracting and keeping a younger workforce, providing training in high schools in the medical field, and tackling transportation and housing issues are good places to begin.
Without the successful application of foresight analysis, in which local leaders in workforce development and health care respond to key events, trends, and choices in their industries in order to create the future instead of reacting to current conditions, Maine’s scenario might very well became our own.
Favorite resources and news you can use
Recent news stories, articles, books, videos, Websites or venues of interest to the BACC supporters and newsletter readers, recommend by the BACC staff and directors. Also community events of interest to the BACC supporters
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power. New York: PublicAffairs, 2019.
Shoshana Zuboff, named "the true prophet of the information age" by the Financial Times, has always been ahead of her time. She asks why the once-celebrated miracle of digital is turning into a nightmare. Zuboff tackles the social, political, business, personal, and technological meaning of "surveillance capitalism" as an unprecedented new market form.