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Wilson 20/20 Addresses Needs of Older Adults

Posted March 27, 2016

By Rochelle Moore, Wilson Daily Times Staff Writer


The needs of an increasing retirement and aging population is guiding efforts by a Wilson 20/20 group to address the needs of seniors.


The elderly and aging impact team of Wilson 20/20’s Beyond 21 planning process has been studying how to best meet the health, safety and well-being of older adults in Wilson County.


“Baby boomers are reaching retirement age and our community will need a diverse response to ensure that our workforce is prepared, our resources are adequate, and that our seniors are treated with dignity and respect and living up to their full potential,” said Candice Rountree, co-chair of the elderly and aging team.


“It’s not just baby boomers. It’s a comprehensive approach for all seniors.”


The elderly and aging team is one of six currently working on Wilson 20/20’s Beyond 21 plan, which focuses on the needs of adults age 21 and older. The other groups include a focus on community leadership and civic engagement, health and wellness, talent retention and attraction, underemployment and unemployment and entrepreneurship.


The Beyond 21 plan, an extension of the Youth Master Plan, will be presented to the community in May.


In addition to Rountree, the elderly and aging team is being led by Nancy Sallenger, Wilson Crisis Center executive director, and Barbara Blackston, Wilson Community Improvement Association executive director.


Several goals have been identified and include ensuring older adults make informed decisions and have easy access to health and long-term care options; enabling older adults to remain independent and age in the place of their choice; empowering older adults to have optimal health; protecting the safety and rights of vulnerable adults; and strengthening the community by planning for the future.


Future resources could become limited because of the aging baby boomer population, Rountree said. Nationally, it’s estimated that 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day.


“With baby boomers aging, resources will become more limited,” Rountree said. “It’s a lot of people to service.”


The impact team is searching for ways to address poverty, increase education and resources to address dementia in the aging population, and strengthening Wilson County’s home-delivered meal program, which supports independent living.


“We would love to increase the number of people who can remain in their home,” Rountree said.


Other areas of interest include finding ways to improve the health of seniors through local nutrition and exercise programs and activities. Rountree said there is also an interest in increasing the number of elderly who receive flu and shingles vaccinations.


“According to U.S. Census data, 16.3 percent of Wilson’s population is age 65 and over,” Rountree said. “We are interested in assisting older adults and their families to make informed decisions, enabling and empowering older adults to remain independent, promoting health and wellness, protecting the safety and rights of older adults and encouraging volunteerism and public accountability.”


By 2033, the number of people age 65 and older in Wilson County is expected to increase by more than 73 percent, Rountree said.


“Making decisions about good health practices, education or personal savings can affect choices and conditions in later years,” Rountree said. “The vision of Wilson 20/20 is that Wilson, within 10 years, will be a prosperous, educated, healthy, diverse and fully integrated community.”

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