This past fall, the Friends of the Marion Council on Aging (FMCOA) contracted with the UMass Boston Gerontology Institute to complete a demographic analysis of the town’s population and to also conduct several focus groups to investigate the needs and interests of Marion’s older citizens.
The demographic study found that the current population of Marion’s seniors – those over the age of 60 – is at 30%. This shows a 24% increase since 2000. By 2030, it is expected that this age group will account for 40% of Marion’s total population. In terms of state averages, this percentage is higher than most. Many of Marion’s seniors over 60 live alone and are considered less than wealthy.
Focus groups were conducted with a range of stakeholders in Marion’s seniors. These groups represented municipal organizations, community non-profits, and consumers of services for seniors. These groups examined current aspects of Marion that make it a “user friendly” town for seniors. In addition, these groups discussed opportunities for Marion to become a more “livable” community for seniors.
Each of the focus groups felt that Marion has good public services – police, fire, EMT, and nursing – but that communication is lacking between departments about senior activities. Many felt that this could be improved by establishing a Senior Center. This would serve as a central hub where one could go to find out what is available and what is needed to care for Marion’s senior residents. It could also be utilized as a space for a wide range of services and activities.
Another common concern that was expressed was the need for affordable housing and transportation services for seniors.
The FMCOA has met and determined several steps the group can take to move toward the recommendations from the report. These activities for 2015 will include advocacy with the Council on Aging for a Program Coordinator, helping to market programs and transportation activities for seniors in the town, contacting local newspapers with “senior spotlight” articles for publication, and working with the town to advocate for a Senior Center space as part of the Town House renovation project. The group will also continue to research models that help to promote aging in place, and ultimately help to make Marion a town that is well prepared to meet the needs of its senior population.
The full report of the demographic analysis can be viewed on FMCOA’s website at www.fmcoa.org.