State and Sussex County officials are examining how to handle a population that is skewing older with each passing year.
The senior citizen population in Sussex County is projected to grow 44 percent by the year 2020, according to the county’s advisory committee on Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities. As a whole, Delaware’s senior population is expected to grow from 20 to 25 percent by the end of the decade.
Denise Weeks-Tappan is a planning supervisor for the Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities
She says many factors play into making Delaware — and especially Sussex County — a destination for the elderly.
“Sussex is close to the beach. And I think Delaware is great place to retire. People from other states look at Delaware and Delaware is attractive because it’s an affordable place to retire and compared with the property taxes of New Jersey or Pennsylvania it costs less to live in Delaware,” said Week-Tappan.
Weeks-Tappan presented “The Delaware State Plan on Aging, 2012-2015” that focuses on how the State plans to meet the needs of a growing population in the years ahead at the Sussex County advisory committee on Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities’ September meeting earlier this week.
Weeks-Tapan says the state is focusing on plans to meet the growing needs of seniors in the state. She says a major goal over the next three years will be making it easier for seniors to stay in their homes as an alternative to nursing homes.
“A lot of times I think the mindset has been in the past that once you get to a certain point the only other option is that they’re going to have to go into a nursing home and that is not necessarily true because there are so many what we call home and community based services that can support people in the home,” noted Weeks-Tappan
One in four Delawareans are currently above age 60.