West Virginia has the third highest median age in the nation at 40.3 percent, and 34.3 percent of all senior households live on less than $15,000 a year. By 2025, those individuals age 60 and older will represent more than 30 percent of West Virginia’s population. In preparation for this aging demographic, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services created and submitted its state age plan per the requirements of the Older Americans Act in order to meet the unique challenges facing West Virginia over the next several years. By understanding how individual state plans are addressing an aging demographic, community planners and local governments can gather and implement best practices.
The plan focuses on existing programs and new programs addressing West Virginia’s aging demographic challenges, which include 1) Lighthouse – a medical service for senior West Virginians in need of in-home services but not qualifying financially for Medicaid, 2) Family Alzheimer’s In-Home Respite (FAIR), 3) Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), and 4) Hot/Cold Meal Delivery Trucks. Each state plan reflects the unique demographic and economic needs of that state, as well as, those programs (existing and new) for which each state seeks funding. Insights into what makes each state and its programs unique can provide insight into similar challenges facing local governments in other states.
Other plan highlights include:
- West Virginia’s aging demographic will increase substantially. By 2025, an estimated 30 percent of the state’s population will be age sixty and older.
- As of 2010, West Virginia households have the lowest income in the nation. The combination of 12.1 percent of the population living in poverty and an aging demographic heightens the need for good planning and funding.
- Not only is West Virginia’s state population rapidly aging and a substantial number of that population facing economic hardship, but also 51.9 percent of those 65 and older have a disability, making poor health the state’s third major challenge.
West Virginia has to consider new, innovative strategies to address its increasingly older, unhealthy, and poor state population. Designing a state plan that centers on an overarching goal can dramatically increase effectiveness.
How to Use
The plan offers how West Virginia intends to address these challenges between 2010 and 2012. Local governments and planners can use this plan to gain an understanding of how those challenges relate to their own area and which components or ideas to utilize for their own planning purposes. Outcomes include effective preparation for an aging demographic and the reinvigoration of local governments through business strategy.