Older residents living longer should be a blessing, not a burden, for Broward County – but they need much more help than the community is currently able to give. That was the message to Community Foundation of Broward supporters at an Oct. 11 luncheon to discuss how to meet the needs of a booming elderly population.
Broward has Florida’s fastest growing population of people over the age of 85. And Broward’s number of residents between 80 and 84 is expected to spike 73 percent by 2030. As advances in medicine help people live longer, programs and services that an aging population needs – from transportation to health care – haven’t kept pace with demand.
To address these challenges, the Community Foundation works to provide bold leadership and foster community collaborations that find solutions for older residents.
“There’s still hope,” Foundation Board Member Ed Hashek told the more than 60 Fundholders and Legacy Society members gathered to learn about efforts to provide a brighter future for Broward’s elders. “With this kind of enthusiasm and help, we have hope.”
The Food for Thought event was an exclusive opportunity for Foundation Fundholders and Legacy Society Members to dive deep into the findings of The Silver Tsunami report – a comprehensive study released this year that pinpoints the needs and challenges Broward faces from massive growth in the older population.
The study – commissioned by the Foundation, the United Way of Broward County and the Jewish Federation of Broward County – found that 13 percent of Broward seniors already live in poverty. People outliving their savings, a lack of affordable housing and longer waiting lists for elderly services are among the other problems the study identified.
“We are not doing a good job of reaching people before they get in crisis,” said Stephen Ferrante, a Barry University professor who conducted the study.
To tackle that crisis, the Foundation has designated Dignity in Aging as one of its top 10 Issues That Matter. Those are areas considered Broward’s most urgent needs, in which the Foundation strategically focuses resources and leadership efforts to create bold, and lasting, change. Foundation Fundholders since 2015 have already directed $910,000 to programs that help improve life for Broward’s older residents.
Examples of that work include:
• Helping make older residents safer in their homes by installing safety equipment such as smoke detectors and “grab bars” to avoid bathroom falls.
• Easing the burden on caregivers by providing stand-in, volunteer caregivers who allow them to take a break.
• Reducing elderly isolation by creating activities – ranging from bingo to dance class to field trips – that give older residents an opportunity connect with others and engage with the community.
Future ideas suggested at the Food for Thought discussion included encouraging the construction of more congregate-style living and boosting local funding for public transit that caters to the elderly.
“As a community we cannot wait. We have to act now. We must be prepared,” said Sheri Brown, the Foundation’s vice president of grants and initiatives. “We need to give seniors the opportunity to age with dignity.”
Click to download “The Silver Tsunami: Is Broward Ready” A Comprehensive Study of Broward’s Older Population
To learn how you can create bold impact, and establish your own charitable Fund that helps Broward’s older residents live life to the fullest, contact the Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-761-9503.