WINSTON-SALEM, NC — North Carolina’s population is aging, and with that changing demographic comes changing needs.
A report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services indicates that by 2028, 1 in 5 people in North Carolina will be 65 or older. The report says that by 2031, there will be more older people in North Carolina than people under the age of 18.
Senior Services President and CEO Lee Covington said North Carolina has a fairly well-developed aging network, but inflation and growing demand for services present challenges.
“The sad truth is that government funding for many of these programs has not kept pace over the years,” Covington said. “Organizations like ours that provide these services need to engage in additional and more creative fundraising to ensure we have the resources to meet these ever-increasing needs.”
A huge one is the need for connection. JoAnn Agnew, a senior who lives in Winston-Salem, said she enjoys the opportunities for social and emotional connection at the Brown and Douglas Neighborhood Center. She participates in programs ranging from chair volleyball to Senior Services dinner.
“I can see my friends and then the activities…just a good time in the morning. I can’t wait to be there,” Agnew said.
Brown and Douglas Center volunteer Ralph Austin said overall he thinks North Carolina is doing a fair job of caring for its seniors, but there is room for improvement.
“There are some things they could do with seniors, like give them a better break with their insurance on their cars and so on, because a lot of seniors don’t do all of our driving, yet still their insurance. and the taxes are high,” Austin said.
Covington said there is no one-size-fits-all approach to caring for the elderly, and their needs may vary from state to state.
“What I think will be important for organizations like ours to continue to listen effectively to the voices of older people, as communities need to respond to the unique needs of their community and what older people want and need, “said Covington.
As North Carolina’s population ages, he said it will become even more critical to ask questions and be prepared to answer the answers.