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State unprepared to care for its aging baby boomers
Joint hearing in Sacramento focuses on findings

By Patricia McBroom, Public Affairs

04 April 2001 | California must prepare now for the rapidly approaching point when the state’s huge baby boom generation will begin surpassing age 65, according to a report by two leading gerontologists at Berkeley and UCLA, along with a colleague at the University of Iowa.

The report, “Strategic Planning Framework for an Aging Population,” was the subject of a joint hearing Monday, April 2, by the State Senate Subcommittee and the Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care, chaired by Senator John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) and Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn (D-Saratoga).

California’s population of people older than 65 will begin a rapid expansion in 2010, leading to a doubling of the current 3.5 million older adults around the year 2025. By 2030, when all baby boomers will be 65-plus age group, older adults will represent more than one of every six Californians.

Forty years from now, the state will have 172 percent more adults over age 65 than it does now and 200 percent more adults over 85, according to conservative projections by California’s Department of Finance. More accurate figures will be forthcoming from an analysis of 2000 census data.
“This demographic shift will challenge us in new and unpredictable ways,” the report states.

“We have much to do,” said project chair Andrew Scharlach, professor of social welfare and director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services at the School of Social Welfare.

“We have a window of opportunity in the next 10 years, and we must begin to think broadly across all aspects of life, from housing to transportation, to meet this challenge. In whatever long-range planning we do in any area, we must keep in mind how it will affect the state’s aging population,” said Scharlach.

Some 10 million of the 75 million baby boomers live in California, a state whose size and diversity make it a “barometer of how the nation will grapple with the challenges and opportunities of population aging,” said the report.

“Strategic Planning Framework for an Aging Population” is part of a larger project that began in 1999 when Senate Bill 910 asked the university to examine existing state resources for aging and develop a comprehensive plan to address future needs. This week’s report includes findings from 11 working papers on key issues for older adults. The project is coordinated by the California Policy Research Center.

For a detailed news release on the findings, dated April 2, see http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases

 


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