Wake County Aging Plan

THE CHALLENGE: THE ELDER EXPLOSION
Wake County faces a significant challenge in the coming years, in the form of a rapidly growing senior
population, many of whom are also economically disadvantaged. Population projections supplied by the Wake
County Planning Office indicate that the over-55 population will increase 62% by 2010, and 161% by 2020,
relative to year 2000 US Census data. We must prepare to deal with the needs of this population while we still
have time.


THE PLANNERS: PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
In view of this challenge, the Wake County Human Services Board recognized that our county’s leaders needed
to join together in a collaborative and community based effort to plan for the needs of our quickly growing senior
adult population. Consequently, the Human Services Board established an Aging Services Committee and
charged it with the task of developing a county wide Aging Services Plan. This committee included government,
nonprofit, business and consumer representatives. This group researched the current status of services for
seniors in Wake County, and assigned teams to develop recommendations in six issue areas found to be of
greatest concern to our older citizens.

•        Transportation
•        Health
•        Personal care
•        Safety
•        Housing
•        Economic self-sufficiency

THE TIME FRAME: 2005-2009
These recommendations were designed to guide efforts to be made by Wake County governmental bodies,
nonprofit agencies, private sector businesses, and the community as a whole, over the next 3 ½  years,
acknowledging that some goals will be ongoing over a longer period. Also, an effort was made to create
recommendations that can be implemented within Wake County whenever possible, though some broader
issues will require advocacy for systemic change at higher levels of government. This report details those
findings.

THE ISSUES
Issue Teams considered services in light of availability, adequacy, accessibility, efficiency, equity and quality.  
Teams sought to describe the resources they would like to see in Wake County, and then looked for specific
ways to move toward those goals.

THE SOLUTIONS
Overall, the teams outlined an impressive range of services already being offered to the seniors in our
community. A strong foundation is in place, with many public, nonprofit, and private-sector entities contributing to
the structure. In some cases, expansion of existing services is all that will be needed, echoing the growth of the
population. In other cases, innovative new programs will be required to meet the challenges of the coming years;
often these will involve volunteers and public-private partnerships. Prevention efforts will be critical, using
educational interventions earlier in the lifespan to promote personal responsibility and forestall or postpone
physical and economic disability. The most troubling problem, which can neither be ignored nor completely
solved is that a large fraction of our older adult population is simply unable to afford to pay for services that are
essential for their health and well-being, and yet they cannot currently qualify for public assistance programs. We
must find ways to address these needs in ways that are just and humane, but also economically viable for our
community.

THE CONCLUSION