Aging & Disabilities Program Specialist
Aging & Volunteer Services Director
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Buncombe County Aging Plan
Buncombe County Aging Plan (2013-2017)
Federal and State Planning Context
Since the passage of the Older Americans Act in 1965, communities across the United States have engaged in deliberate efforts to plan for meeting the needs of their older adults. In its summary report to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, North Carolina committed to establishing itself and its communities as livable and senior-friendly. Building on this commitment, the 2008-2012 Buncombe County Aging Plan asserted, “nothing less than a paradigm shift in our views of aging is needed…[representing] a dramatic departure from ‘business as usual’ in terms of how we think about aging and planning for older adults.” Based upon the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services’ definition of a Livable and Senior-Friendly Community, the 2008-2012 Aging Plan identified six components that framed its vision for a livable, aging-friendly Buncombe County: service and support coordination, safety and security, financial well-being, health and wellness, social engagement, and living environments.
Buncombe County Demographics: A Compelling Case for Our County
The total population in Buncombe County is expected to grow from 217,000 to 285,000, and the number of individuals age 60+ is expected to nearly double. By some estimates, 42.8% of Buncombe County residents are already either baby boomers or older. Because of this growth, North Carolina named our county among six in NC Senate Bill 448 (enacted in 2007), which directs the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services to pay close attention to the ways communities can best prepare for the changing aging demographic.
One particular challenge we face in addressing aging in Buncombe County is the generational difference between the current frail and at-risk older population, and the emerging baby boomer cohort. Balancing the different needs and desires around such issues as long-term care and social engagement is a challenge we face in prioritizing and planning. The current plan builds on previous planning work by continuing to expand its approach to aging and older adulthood through the lens of what we envision as a “livable, aging-friendly community.”
Indeed, the paradigm shift seems well underway in Buncombe County. The goals of the 2008-2012 Aging Plan were addressed with systematic, focused action and have resulted in a community that is more aware of the needs and contributions of older adults and the services available throughout the county. Tangible outcomes from key initiatives are seen in the launch of the Land-of-Sky Community Resource Connections (CRC); the energy and early success of C-CAN (Culture Change and Aging Network) of Buncombe County; the Financial Wellbeing for Seniors DVD; three years of Fraud, Scam and Exploitation Summits and the establishment of TRIAD, a collaboration between law enforcement, service providers and seniors focused on safety/security issues; increased health and wellness awareness via the Aging Well Learning Network and accompanying outreach to underserved areas, and an on-line and printed Senior Resource Directory.
The 2013-2017 Aging Plan will build on the success and momentum of the past five years, while incorporating current and emerging issues at the national, state and local fronts, not least of which include the impact of the Affordable Care Act, continued tight financial times affecting the population as well as public and private sector funding, and the emergence of the boomer cohort. In addition to its aim to respond to the issues of the time, this plan aims to establish SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, research-based, and timely) goals in each of the six areas listed above. We have tried to select goals that will help move the bar and not merely maintain the status quo. Of course in some 4 situations, especially given the budgetary constraints of our time, maintenance of current levels of funding, for example, may be the best we can hope for.
This report reviews the current and emerging issues in the areas of service and support coordination, safety and security, financial wellbeing, health and wellness, social engagement, and living environments, in order to inform and support the goals of the 2012-2017 Aging Plan.