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Cedar Mill News
Volume 5, Issue 5


May 2007

Tsunami of Aging

By Bruce Bartlett, Chair, CPO1

At the April Washington County Committee for Citizen Involvement (CCI) meeting we had a presentation by Chris Larson and Diane Lindsey of the county’s Disability, Aging and Veteran Services department which addressed the increasing needs of “Baby Boomers,” people born between roughly 1946-1965. Every eight seconds a boomer turns 60—four million a year. Our population over 50 is growing faster than under-50s.

Budget cuts in Washington County in recent years have terminated services for more than 600 elderly and disabled. Family caregivers (you and me) provide over 75% of aged care in the US. ( If funding services is difficult now, our aging population will create impossibly difficult conditions for all of us, unless we rally together and re-think our priorities. As former First Lady Rosalynn Carter states: “There are four types of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” 

We are building communities in which most elderly cannot live independently or safely, or even survive. The housing being built today is expensive and large with multiple floors—we are building up on small lots. There is no easy way to walk to shopping or recreation when driving becomes impossible for many elderly. Health services are expensive and distant. The cultural community environment is indifferent to the needs of the elderly. And we generally do not know our neighbors.

With this as the backdrop, we must rethink our priorities and realize what a rapidly growing aging population means. Very few people will be truly independent in old age; most will either give care or receive it. The county is attempting to create an integrated set of service systems which will help us deal with this ‘tsunami of aging’ threatening to drown us all. To learn more, visit the county’s web site Creating a system to help others now will help us all eventually.


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