The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 23 percent of Minnesota’s population will be 60 and older by the year 2030, an increase of more than 33 percent from 2012 (Minnesota Administration on Aging).
Minnesota is experiencing a dramatic demographic shift that is mirrored throughout the rest of the nation. The number of older adults is expected to rise greatly and disproportionately to the rest of the population. This significant change in the dependency ratio paired with the changing needs and demands of older adults is the catalyst for much attention and positive change in the sector.
Scope of the research
In preparation for this research, I interviewed 14 experts working in the aging sector in Minnesota. Their insights have helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)
Areas of focus
Experts noted the following prominent focus areas in the sector:
- Aging protection – Some elders have physical, mental or emotional disabilities that make it difficult to care for themselves or to protect themselves from maltreatment. Measures, such as early detection protocols and mandated reporting, are put into place to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
- Building lifelong communities – Increasingly, seniors are opting to stay in their homes (or the homes of their choosing) until much later in life. As a result service provision is becoming increasingly mobile and community based. Infrastructure, such as transportation, built environment, and technology, are needed to keep communities thriving for people at all stages of life. There is a growing movement to ensure that all communities rural and urban are prepared to support older adults in issues related to memory and mobility loss.
- Health – Nearly 80 percent of individuals age 65 and up have one or more chronic conditions. An estimated 65 percent have multiple chronic conditions. Issues related to health include cost, quality, and convenience. This burden is shared by health service providers (both community and hospital-based, insurance carriers, long-term care providers, and care givers. Health concerns for older adults cover healthy aging and preventive care, intensive health care strategies, and end-of-life-care. Additionally, many services are related to a specific diagnosis including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.
- Redefining work and retirement – As life expectancy and age vitality changes, individuals are being encouraged to continue working in both paid and nonpaid roles. Communities greatly benefit from the ongoing contributions of older adults and those adults in turn benefit as well. In order to facilitate this, organizations must have a greater competency around the needs of elders in the workplace. Additionally, seniors are being encouraged to plan and prepare for their retirement and end of life needs.
- Supporting caregivers – As the demographics shift, there is a growing deficit in the number of formal and informal caregivers available. Since families and friends provide the vast majority of care to older people, there is a large need for services and supports for these informal caregivers. Needed supports include wrap-around service models, workplace accommodations, and education. These roles are especially important, as without the role of caregivers, elders require institutionalization or state supported care much sooner.
- Maximizing the use of technology – Across the board, Minnesota is working to use technological tools more efficiently to help smooth the transition of the demographic shift. Use of technology can be implemented for improvements in long distance health care, self-managed care, tele-health to address worker shortages, performance management systems, and expanded access to information.
Types of nonprofits
- Advocacy organizations
- Civic engagement organizations
- Direct-service providers
- Research organizations
- Social organizations
Participation in the Research
If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of aging in Minnesota and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-March 2014. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at firstname.lastname@example.org with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.
Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!