Video and poll: Impact of Minnesota's aging population?
In the coming weeks, we'll be posting a series of interviews on a range of topics that impact or are impacted by transportation. To help frame the future of transportation, it’s important to understand Minnesotan’s expectations and desires for the future economy, environment and quality of life.
Gillaspy points to two big trends: an aging Minnesota and fewer government resources (also a product of an aging population). Twenty years from now Minnesotans will be much older than today.
In 1950, Minnesotans aged 18-24 just outnumbered those aged 65+ (300,000 to 270,000). In 2010, younger Minnesotans (540,000) are well outnumbered by retirees (680,000), and this disparity will continue to grow. By 2030, there will be 2.5 times as many seniors as young people in Minnesota (1,290,000 versus 530,000). Source Minnesota State Demographers Office.
Which 2 of the following do you think will be most impacted by aging?
- Housing patterns
- Health care
- Public transportation
In what way do you think the two you selected above will be different?
- We will have much greater need of housing in proximity to businesses and services (groceries, medical clinics, etc.). This will mean higher density almost everywhere but will also mean planning done to make walking and use of public transit not just possible, but convenient and encouraged.
- For health care the demand will be through the roof. In terms of housing, we will need more options for the elderly so they can live independently.
- Housing patterns will change to address the shift in a much larger elderly population. There will be (or at least need to be) many more elderly living options in urban areas that are served by transit, have accessibility to bicycle/pedestrian facilities, or are specifically located in or near mixed used, higher density development with a mix of amenities in close proximity such as grocery stores, health facilities, recreation, etc.
The elderly population consumes and uses the majority of state and federal budgets allocated for healthcare. I once heard that we as Americans consume in healthcare dollars more in the last couple years of life than all of the previous years combined. We as a society need to start thinking about when major health care decisions need to be made in terms of the cost to society and the system and benefit to the person receiving treatment. Example: An elderly person that has terminal cancer. Do we as a society do what we can to make the individual comfortable during the remaining time left or on the opposite spectrum, operate to remove some of the cancer and create an unneeded fiscal draw on the system?
- We will have an exponentially greater health care need and a lot fewer people in the workforce to do the work.
Tell us more about how communities and transportation will need to change to accommodate our increasingly aging and diverse population.
A few examples:
* Making public transportation more disability-friendly
* New car technology
* Larger/easier to read street signs
* Expanded delivery services to help people age in place
- We must keep our elderly residents independent for as long as possible. That means providing transportation that works for that demographic. Public transit and walking are two of the primary modes used by this group. We will need policies like Complete Streets and much more bus and rail infrastructure to keep our community healthy.
- Increased service to/from elderly communities.
Increased ADA compliance with transportation system, including bike/ped. facilities, transit stops and buses, signal systems, etc.
Increased voice recognition systems and signal systems with visual and sound accompaniment.
- We need to expand our system and make public transit more accessible to all.
- I think better land use policies would help, such as allowing land to be used for higher density uses if needed. Seniors are less likely to want the cost and responsibility of a single family home and more likely to want the lower cost and responsibility of townhomes, condos, co-ops, and apartments - all under the rubric of multi-family housing. I see greater want for proximity of services and less dependence on cars due to health issues, safety, and cost. I personally don't favor age-in-place as I feel it can shift costs from retiree to worker to provide services, but I believe that a sizable number will favor it.