Chatham Hosts Forum on Town’s Aging Population

Chatham LighthouseCHATHAM – The Chatham Council on Aging will present their Community Needs Assessment Final Report at two public forums today.

Dr. Jan Mutchler from U-Mass Boston’s Gerontology Institute will present key findings and recommendations from the multi-phased process.

Encompassing data from public forums, focus groups, interviews of key informants and a comprehensive survey, the report shows how seniors feel about the current level of programs and services, levels of engagement and preferences in the community.

The forums will be held from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Chatham Community Center.

Mutchler presented findings to selectmen earlier this month and said data points to 20 percent of the population to become 80 years of age or older.

Researchers conducted a survey, interviews and focus groups of more than 1,500 seniors.

“The total population is expected to decline and that decline is largely, really entirely, for the under 60 population,” Mutchler said. “If you have a declining population, a declining young population, and a stable older population you are going to have a larger and larger share of your population that is older.”

Mutchler said the results are significant because people 80 and older tend to have more and different kinds of needs than young people.

They are likely to need more help in the home, more outreach services and transportation services.

More people retiring in Chatham will also contribute to the increase in senior population.

“Part of it is a renewal of the older population by people moving in here wanting to retire here and some of those retirees may well be your summer residents,” Mutchler said.

A small survey of the seasonal resident population was conducted and included 35 respondents age 50 or older. Among that age group, nearly half indicated they either are planning or might make Chatham their primary residence.

Chatham seniors are also committed to aging in place.

“We heard a lot about how attached Chatham seniors are to living here and staying here,” Mutchler said. “They value the lifestyle and the sense of community they have here.”

Community survey results indicated that two-thirds of the seniors have lived in Chatham for at least 15 years and 25 percent have lived in town for 35 years or longer.

Over 90 percent said it was important to stay here as long as possible and 70 percent think they are going to live in their current home for the rest of their lives.

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