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On the Issues: Caring for Our Seniors

October 6, 2017

Minneapolis, like cities nationwide, is experiencing a major demographic shift. Our population is both growing in general, and growing older. Across our state, the number of people age 65 and older is expected to double by 2030, compared to 2010 numbers. In the next half-decade, for the first time ever, Minnesota seniors will outnumber our K-12 students.

 

The change is big and important. We must strategically plan for the implications this population shift will have on our economy, workforce, housing, healthcare system, and tax base. It’s also essential that city leaders work at City Hall to ensure that the basic needs of aging neighbors are adequately met -- through existing and new social service programs, and in partnership with providers throughout the community.

 

Providing for our aging population means recognizing that people’s needs change as they grow into new phases of life. I will work collaboratively with advocacy groups, government agencies (at the state, county, and local levels), and with Ward 11 seniors themselves to map out near- and long-term solutions that ensure everyone’s basic needs are met. This isn’t new territory for me -- I’ve pushed for policies to help low-income seniors alongside AARP and other advocacy groups.

 

This kind of collaborative leadership is what I do every day, and what I’ll keep doing at City Hall. I will stand up for the Ward 11 residents who’ve spent their lives working hard, to ensure their senior years are spent in a supportive and inclusive community.

 

In talking with seniors, I understand many want to remain in a home of their own as long as they can. Aging in place is important to our seniors. I’m proud that our Ward 11 community is already home to Nokomis Healthy Seniors, which offers exercise, chronic disease support, and other services to area seniors, helping them live safely and independently in their own homes. From City Hall, I will support efforts like this.

 

The city itself must also actively engage with our seniors to help prevent hardships that put folks at risk. I will work with our Fire Department to offer home safety checks for seniors to assess kitchen and bathroom safety and ensure adequate lighting in walking areas. I will work with Public Works to make sure Ward 11 has walkable sidewalks and safe streets for all users -- year-round, but especially in the winter.

 

Minneapolis seniors deserve proactive housing policy that addresses their changing needs. I support provisions that would enable seniors to remain in the same community, but relocate to smaller single-story units or assisted living. I understand the complexities of this -- for many seniors, the cost of moving from a mortgage-free home and taking on added expense is a real challenge. As Policy Director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership, I’ve worked for years on affordable housing policy, including for seniors. I know what this looks like, and how to get it done.

 

The needs of seniors can’t fall through the cracks. We need to make sure Minneapolis offers suitable housing options, ready access to recreation and exercise, and opportunities for all to engage with our vibrant community. From City Hall, I will support the health and senior services that are essential to creating a Minneapolis that works for everybody, for a lifetime.

 

 

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