The Wyoming Department of Health estimated that by 2020 Wyoming will have the largest population of adults age 65-74 in the United States, with 60 percent of residents over 55. For this reason, this study was conducted to determine the changing needs of this growing population in order to create community-wide strategies that would addresses these needs.
Phase one of the study included the collection of data and a secondary analysis of the literature already available on the impact of this growing population on the country. Phase one resulted in the creation of 16 white papers that addressed national and state findings on a variety of topics related to Boomers, including family issues, finances, public programs and services, and community services, amongst others. Phase two of the study involved focus groups and telephone surveys with Boomers, community leaders and service providers to help determine what they felt that the Casper area needed to do in order to prepare for the upcoming demographic changes.
Highlighted research findings include:
- Social isolation is a key issue that needs to be addressed when focusing on seniors in the Casper area, as well as the rest of the country. As people age and leave the workplace, their social interaction is immediately limited, making it essential for communities to provide opportunities for them to connect with others.
- There is a great deal of research that points to the fact that the current health care system is not ready for the growing number of older adults. Geriatric specialists are limited and those that do work in the geriatric field are underpaid compared to other specialists.
- Fifty-two percent of boomers surveyed were planning to retire between ages 60 and 69, while 31 percent were unsure when they would be able to retire. Over 30 percent of respondents are relying on Social Security to provide most of their retirement income, and nearly 60 percent are worried about whether they will have enough money after they retire.
- Necessary changes include basic infrastructure alterations such as sidewalks, streets, parks and recreational facilities, new housing designs, and safety service deliver.
How to Use
This study serves as a great model for local planners and community leaders outside of the Casper area looking to conduct research on the needs of older adult residents. Additionally, the report provides data, recommendations, and action plan items that can be read and considered by any community planners and leaders.