December 27, 2007

Report Shows Senior Citizen Numbers Growing at State, National Level - Not in Scotland County

On December 20th Missouri officials unveiled the stateís second annual report that allows policymakers and communities to continue preparing for their growing senior population. Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and other representatives rolled out Missouri Senior Report 2007 with a press conference in Columbia to answer questions on the status of seniors in Missouri.

The report, a collaboration between the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the University of Missouri Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, provides relevant senior data centralized in one document. One can track the trends of aging Missourians county by county, comparing older adults in Scotland to those in Cape Girardeau, for instance, on a variety of indicators such as health status and housing. Each of Missouriís 114 counties and the City of St. Louis also receive an overall composite rank, which represents a summary of the overall well-being of seniors in that county.

ďMissouriís Senior Report indicates life is improving for our seniors in three key areas,Ē said Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, the Official Senior Advocate for the State of Missouri. He added, ďMissouri seniorsí health status has improved, the crime rate has gone down and more seniors have access to transportation. The report was touted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year as being nationally innovative, and CDC commented that it was an effective way to ensure that key information on Missouriís older adults is available to those planning senior programs and tracking trends.Ē

The report also shows how Scotland County seniors fare compared to last year. Generally, their health has slightly declined and their economic status has remained relatively constant. An improvement in health status means that seniors made fewer trips to hospitals and emergency rooms for diabetes. Economic status is measured by two indicators: the percentage of personal income seniors receive from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the percentage of seniors working full or part time. Seniors with a high percentage of income from SSI are more likely to live in poverty.

Says DHSS Director Jane Drummond, ďWe knew it was imperative for Missouri policymakers and businesses to track the trends of seniors in their own communities and counties rather than rely on national aging statistics. This report will shape our decision-making and help our communities prepare for the senior boom.Ē

Counties that want to improve senior-related issues can contact the departmentís Community Development Services at 573-751-6168. The unit can identify a facilitator to work with communities on a senior improvement plan.

Almost one in five Missourians will be 65 or older by 2020, the result of increases in life expectancy and aging baby boomers. Today seniors comprise 13 percent of Missouriís population; in 2020, the number rises to 18 percent. The surging senior population will affect Missouri communities in different ways, varying greatly among urban and rural communities.

Missouri Senior Report 2007 is available via the Internet at www.missouriseniorreport.org or www.dhss.mo.gov.

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