By Kendall McGee | June 4, 2021 at 6:08 PM EDT – Updated June 4 at 8:30 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – In New Hanover County, there are already more residents over the age of 60, than under the age of 17.
The Cape Fear is one of the top retirement destinations in the entire country, but the boom does come with challenges.
“It’s becoming harder and harder to find qualified aids to take care of these older adults, so it is a major issue,” said social work supervisor Andrew Zeldin.
Most seniors can’t afford apartments on their social security income. There’s 1-2 year wait list for affordable housing, then there’s the problems of healthcare, food security and social isolation.
“One of the reasons why we wanted to have a master aging plan is so we could address these issues and be prepared,” added Zeldin.
They conducted studies on the needs of the community, developed future goals and mapped out how to get there. The plan touches on all kinds of issues facing seniors, and aims to make life better for the growing demographic.
Senior Resource Center Director Amber Smith says they’re already building an aging coalition, a group of nonprofits, businesses and municipal representatives that will meet regularly to check the progress being made on the plan and report back to commissioners.
“The real work is just beginning,” said director Amber Smith. “We hope that people will see changes, whether that is enhancements of existing services or additional partnerships — those partnerships could be increased — partnerships even with our hospital, or with UNCW, or CFCC, of how can we work together.”
They’re brainstorming creative solutions, like adding social workers or a senior center to the north side of the county, where more older people are moving, or looking into adding mental health services specifically for seniors.
“If we could really focus on preparing for the future, for the rise in the aging population, for our own aging process as well, I think everybody would be better for that,” said Zeldin.
If you’re interested in joining the aging coalition, contact Andrew Zeldin at the Senior Resource Center.
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