Over the next 20 years the senior population in Nebraska is expected to grow by 75 percent, far outpacing overall population growth. In compliance with the Older Americans Act, the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services State Unit on Aging submitted its strategic age preparedness plan. The plan outlines the goals, partnerships, existing services, and planned services to meet the needs of its older demographic over the next four years.
Though the overall state population is expanding by five percent annually, out-migration is outpacing in-migration. Those who are migrating into the State are largely comprised of minority groups and older Nebraskans returning from the Sunbelt. Of all Nebraska residents age 65+, 34.9 percent are disabled and 20 percent live in poverty, creating a unique series of challenges for the state, including disability services, mobility, and affordability.
Other plan highlights include:
- A partnership between Immanuel Health Systems and the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care to establish a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). “PACE provides a continuum of support services for persons over the age of 55 with chronic care needs who are able to live safely within the community” (page 14). This would be a unique partnership initiative within Nebraska that includes non-medical and medical organizations.
- A third of all older Nebraskans are disabled. As such, Nebraska is trying to fully implement an Aging Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC) program, upon which several subsequent plan goals are based. One such goal is a fully automated system (called ACCESS Nebraska) for economic assistance programs (online forms and application, email follow-up, etc.). The plan is committed to implementing ACCESS Nebraska, but also recognizes that not all older Nebraskans are comfortable with using technology. Balancing shrinking budgets with greater return on investment can mean difficult choices for state planners.
- A Nebraska transportation coalition for seniors has quickly turned into public transportation initiatives for all ages. One result is the expansion of the role of Mobility Managers in coordinating local transportation planning efforts involving several sectors of the community.
- Nebraska’s four-year plan is one of the few to emphasize the State Unit on Aging’s (SUA) participation with AARP. This involvement has led to the establishment of a number of programs, including transportation coalitions, legislative concerns, and coordination between departments. Community planners should consider AARP as a resource as an important part age-related planning and possible source of grants.
How to Use
Often, effective aging preparation strategies are those that incorporate the bigger picture. In preparing for an older Nebraska, this plan is preparing for all of Nebraska. Planners and community leaders across the country can review the new transportation and health care initiatives being implemented in Nebraska that benefit all ages.
View full report: Nebraska State Plan on Aging – 2012-2015 (PDF – 1 MB)