Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? This a great opportunity to honor and celebrate older Americans and their contributions to this country and to Howard County.
The 2012 census reported that there were 43.1 million people in the United States who were 65 and older. By 2060, that number is projected to more than double to 92 million, marking the first time that the population 65 and older would outnumber people younger than 18 in the country.
Here in Howard County, we have seen this trend first-hand. From 2000 to 2010, our 65-and-older population increased by 57 percent — more than three times the overall population increase of 16 percent.
Older adults are an integral part of Howard County. Those who are retired volunteer their time with religious organizations and non-profits throughout the County, and continue to make Howard County a great place for all to live. They also are often involved with their grandchildren, providing great role models and mentoring, not to mention occasional babysitting!
However, we will need to make sure that we can meet the needs of this population as they continue to age. It is our responsibility and our duty to help them to stay in their homes and in their communities as long as possible, and to give them the opportunity to maintain or even improve the quality of their lives.
Already, the county operates six senior centers that offer a wide variety of programs and services, including fitness programs, educational opportunities and recreational activities.
County programs have proven quite popular, with participation jumping 35 percent in the past five years, from 118,000 to 159,000.
These senior centers also offer a tremendous range of information that can be helpful to our seniors or their caregivers. Housing options, medical care advice, transportation assistance, financial guidance, and more can all be accessed at our senior centers or through the web at http://www.marylandaccesspoint.info/.
But we can always do more. Individually, we can show our appreciation for Howard County’s older adults and give back by volunteering (find out how you can help here).
As an elected official, I have always been committed to meeting the needs of our older adult community, and I plan to continue that commitment as County Executive. Improving current programs and dedicating more resources to this segment of the population is an important item on my agenda, and one that I believe we can all get behind.