N.C. STHL learns about aging population increases

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The North Carolina Senior Tar Heel legislature (STHL) convened in Raleigh for its first meeting of 2013. During the meeting leaders shared future trends on aging and housing issues for North Carolina. The NCSTHL also celebrated 20 years of providing advocacy for older adults in North Carolina.

Keynote speaker, Mitchell Silver, president, American Planning Association, discussed statistics as they relate to population growth and a demographic shift over the next 30 years. He said currently the United States is experiencing a demographic re-mix. By 2030, one in five individuals in the United States will be age 65 and older with life expectancy of 82-years old. By 2050, the number of Americans over the age of 85 is expected to triple from 5.4 million to 19 million. In North Carolina, the number of  individuals age 65 and older is expected to increase nearly 125 percent.

In addition, Silver added that the traditional family is changing. There is an increase in multi-generational households, a decrease in marriage rates and an increase in singles living alone. As families change, the need for housing will change as well. Silver said, “young people either cannot afford to buy a home or prefer to rent. We also expect smaller and more energy-efficient homes to be in demand in the 30 years not only for single individuals but for older adults who want to age in place.

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According to Silver, local governments have approved some initiatives that address housing needs for older adults and single families. Universal design homes and cottage courts are being developed in some urban areas to meet the need of this population.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of NCSTHL. Delegates and alternates who have served 10 years or more were honored during a special reception. The NC General Assembly established the Senior Tar Hill Legislature in July 1993.

Polk County is represented by John Land Johnson of Tryon and Ernie Giannini of Mill Spring. The next scheduled assembly will be in June.

– article submitted by Johnson and Giannini