Apr 19, 2023 - News

How Central Ohio plans to help our aging population

Share of Ohio population age 65 or older, by county
Data: Scripps Gerontology Center; Note: 2010 data uses U.S. Census Bureau estimates and 2020-2050 are population projections; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios. Explore an interactive chart.

Central Ohio's rapid growth and influx of younger transplants has overshadowed another demographic shift: a major rise in aging residents.

Why it matters: The U.S. isn't well-equipped to handle this impending increase in older residents due to a strained long-term care industry, fewer caregivers to assist with their needs and a world that just isn't designed for them, Axios' Tina Reed reports.

State of play: Franklin County's over-65 population is projected to nearly double by 2040 to 229,000 residents, or 15.4% of the total population, per the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University.

  • Just under 10% of Franklin County was 65 and older in 2010.
  • That number had already grown to 12.7% last year.

The big picture: Baby boomers are enjoying longer, more active lives than their predecessors and make up the largest generation of older adults in U.S. history.

Zoom in: Local efforts are targeting key services like transportation, housing and health care — plus, don't forget about Mayor Andrew Ginther's promise for a "dramatic" pickleball expansion.

🩺 Health care

Americans are growing more comfortable with home-based care, retail clinics and other options beyond the traditional doctor's office, says Mike Avotins, a Midwest market president for Aetna who is based in Columbus.

The intrigue: Nearly half of people ages 65 and older have tried virtual care visits, a new CVS Health "Future of Healthy Aging" report finds.

  • Avotins tells Axios that continued improvements must make virtual care viable for non-tech savvy users.

What we're watching: How our state will address a dire shortage of home health care workers.

🏡 Housing

Growing old at home is tough as housing prices and property taxes continue to rise.

  • More affordable housing is needed for Central Ohioans of all ages, but especially for aging residents with extremely low incomes — like the new 62-unit complex in Northland.

Threat level: "We're not keeping pace," Katie White, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging administrator, tells Axios.

🚌 Transportation

Currently 89% of surveyed adults over 50 in our eight-county region typically drive themselves places, per a 2021 assessment by OSU's Age Friendly Innovation Center.

  • Improved walkability and public transportation and options like ride sharing will be necessary for older adults who outlive their ability to drive.

What they're saying: "What we're talking about works better for people of all ages and abilities," center director Marisa Sheldon tells Axios.

❤️ Social connections

Local groups are working to connect our communities so residents can support each other.

Zoom in: One example is the Central Ohio Network of Villages, which organizes social events and also links volunteers with neighbors who need assistance.


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