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Silver Tsunami: Community not ready for wave

May 05, 2010 - By Susan Bromley

Staff Writer

A 'Silver Tsunami' will sweep over Oakland County soon.

This natural phenomenon is predicted as the baby boom generation comes of age. The Oakland County Senior Advisory Council met May 3 and presented a year-long data study examining the social, economic, and quality of life impact that the wave of older adults will present in the county. It is estimated that senior citizens here will outnumber school age children in the next few years.

"For Brandon, we're looking at budget concerns and what we are required to fund, and even though we aren't required to fund the senior center and senior transportation, these things are more and more important," said Brandon Township Clerk Jeannie McCreery.

"We have no public transportation and no other place to get what we offer at the senior center, and it will affect more and more people as time goes on."

The Edna Burton Senior Center, 345 Ball St. in Ortonville, has grown in the last 10 years to become one of the most active and vibrant senior centers in the county, said McCreery. The center here averages 12 senior citizens or more per day using the lunch program. Meanwhile, she said Independence Township, which has a new building, cancelled their on-site lunch program for lack of participation when they had only 4 citizens per day eating lunch at their center.

The 2000 census showed Brandon Township has having the largest percentage of residents in Oakland County with children under 18 and one of the lowest senior populations. McCreery guarantees that the 2010 census will show an increase in the senior population, and she expects that to continue to grow as the study has shown.

To plan for this, she believes it is vital that the township continue to offer seniors van transportation to doctor appointments and shopping, especially because the area is rural and there are no public transportation options.

She would also like to see the development of a senior living complex, noting that residents who moved here to raise their families could stay after it becomes too difficult to maintain their home on 2.5 acres.

"We want to keep our retired people living in their community, supporting their community and spending money in this community," she said. "I would like to see a developer come in and do a really nice unit."

The study shows that the senior population in Oakland County spends 90 percent of their income in the county. McCreery believes the township has great restaurants and wonderful retail stores, but if seniors have to move away to a community with a senior complex, they will not return to this area to shop.

Other highlights from the study:

• The median income for Oakland County age 65 plus households in 2008 was $41,201 (American Community Survey)

• Seniors spend 92 percent of their monthly income locally (Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare)

• Seniors spent approximately $5.7 billion in Oakland County in 2008 (American Community Survey)

• Retaining just 100 retirees will result in more than $4 million spent in our local economy each year

• Family caregivers in need of out-of-home respite have a four-month wait in scheduling the next available opening (AAA 1-B)

• There were 710 individuals on the Oakland County MI Choice Medicaid nursing home alternative home care wait list on Jan.1, 2010, including 23 nursing home residents (AAA 1-B)

• There is currently no licensing requirement for home health care agencies in the state of Michigan

• Due to inflationary factors and public funding cuts, the number of frail seniors receiving homemaking assistance in Oakland County fell by 12 percent from 2006-2008, and the number receiving outdoor chore assistance fell 21 percent (NAPIS)

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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