I am going to try and start the year out optimistically as we enter the roaring twenties. Maybe more than incremental change is possible in a good way even as we face world chaos at large. The aging population numbers are adding up and getting more than backhand attention in some states. The older population of Minnesota has hit one million and will outpace this year the head count of those under the age of 18. Plus Minnesota can boast it has one of the best longevity stats in the nation. So they are in in for the long haul out there in the ice and snow.
So what does that add up to; a proclamation of sorts by the governor. He wants to make the state an example of how best to have an age friendly society. How is he going to do it? He is creating a council to make existing agencies work together to prepare for the needs of aging Minnesotans. The language reads like a big wish list:
Older adults deserve to live in communities that are respectful, inclusive, and free of prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s age, and to be celebrated for their accomplishments and contributions. The aging of our population impacts every community and culture, and people of all ages should feel confident that they and their families can live vibrant, purposeful lives as they grow old. A statewide policy to promote healthy aging requires engaging with older adults as contributors to the social, economic, and civic fabric of our communities, encouraging physical and psychological health and well-being in older adults and their caregivers, and eliminating ageism. This work cannot be accomplished by any one state agency, but instead must be a collective effort that requires coordination, collaboration, innovation, and focus across state agencies.
Just how is this all going to happen? For one thing they will have older citizens serve on various parts of the council. Age friendly in a small community can mean something as simple as extra park benches or a ride program. I think the older adults will look more at practical means of tax easing or help with building mid income affordable housing.
The bureaucratic tendency to have silos of responsibility always leads to a struggle as to who gets the credit for accomplishing things. This may well work against this effort. Yet it could lead us in some interesting directions as all states need more definable goals that can shared when it comes to dealing with the age wave. Let us hope this effort generates a positive blueprint.
I will stay tuned.