Study: Aging Population in Barnstable to Increase

seniorsBARNSTABLE – Barnstable’s population is aging and a recent study has shown that the town may have to expand services to accommodate the numbers.

Dr. Jan Mutchler, a Gerontologist with the University of Massachusetts Boston, gave a presentation to council members at a meeting last week about the aging population in Barnstable.

The study included a survey of 4,300 Barnstable residents over the age of 50 with more than 1,200 completed surveys returned.

The results found that 42 percent of Barnstable’s population in 2030 will be those aged 60 to 79, an increase from 28 percent in 2010.

The study also looked at Barnstable’s current seniors and how satisfied they are with the town and its services.

Six out of ten seniors believed that staying in Barnstable was “very important” and they want to “age in place,” according to the study.

Respondents also reported to feel the safest in Barnstable Village and Cotuit, but less safe in Hyannis.

“We heard a lot about the amenities of living here. Seniors really like living here. They like the community. They want to stay here,” said Mutchler.

The biggest concerns that seniors addressed in the survey were transportation, health care and housing as they continue to age in Barnstable.

Mutchler said that the study concluded that the town must expand transportation options, create options to downsize housing as well as help to modify homes to be “age friendly” and promote and expand community based long-term services in order to support the growing aging population in the coming years.

She added that there are still many seniors in the community that are in need.

“There is a core of your residents who are low income, that are disabled. They’re not getting out. They’re not having contact with friends and family, and those are highly vulnerable people,” said Mutchler. “These are people who, it’s important for the community to know they’re out there.”

According to the study, 30 percent of householders aged 65 and older in Barnstable have incomes under $25,000, 37 percent of seniors aged 75 and older have at least one disability and 24 percent over the age of 80 leave home to visit family and friends once a month or less.

Mutchler said respondents lack familiarity with programs at the senior center, and both print and electronic communication are required to reach those who want to know more.

Town officials have said that one of the biggest concerns they have for seniors is that they want to prevent them from getting isolated in their homes.

The town did receive praise from seniors in the study, saying that the adult day care is a vital service, and staff at the senior center are helpful and friendly.

Mutchler advised town officials to continue strengthening partnerships between the senior services division and other town offices in order to meet the needs of the aging population.

The 130-page study cost $35,000 and was partially funded by the Barnstable Council on Aging and the Friends of the Barnstable Senior Center.

The town’s Senior Services Division will be talking about the study with residents today at a 50 and over Needs Assessment Community Forum.

The event starts at 9 a.m. at the Barnstable Senior Center and town officials will share the key findings and recommendations from the study.


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