Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an editorial titled, “Getting Old is a Crisis More and More Americans Can’t Afford.” Written by editorial board member Michelle Cottle, this piece notes that during the next decade approximately 10,000 Americans will reach the age of 65 every day. Moreover, by 2040, the number of seniors age 65 and older is projected to increase by nearly 60 percent while the population of Americans 85 and older will more than double.
Here in Minnesota, the percentage of “older adults” will soon surpass the percentage of school age children for the first time in the state’s history. Today, there are more than 800,000 Minnesotans 65 and older and by 2035 that population is expected to top 1.3 million. Writing for Wilder Research’s Minnesota Compass project, data analyst Megan Chmielewski warns that this “huge demographic shift will have widespread impact on Minnesota’s economy, health care system, and social services.” And, while there are several federal and state level policy proposals to address the health and wellness of older Americans, Cottle cites new legislation (the first of its kind anywhere) in the State of Washington designed to help support the daily and long-term needs of senior and disabled residents as a promising model that could be replicated in other states.
We must begin to significantly increase our capacity to care for older adults in the future. And still, there are current resources available that help Minnesota seniors maintain their independent living situations, including healthcare programs, financial supports, nutrition and transportation, and other critical services. For more information and how to access these resources, call Minnesota’s Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 or visit the Minnesota Department of Human Services online.