Editorial:

Serving seniors: With Wyoming’s aging population, it’s wise to plan for new center

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For elderly residents living alone, long winters like this one can be especially isolating.

But seniors don’t have to worry about making a warm meal or struggle to start their car in the bitter cold — thanks to the Powell Senior Citizens Center, they can get a ride or even have a meal delivered to their home.

In addition to providing essential services such as food and transportation, the senior center also ensures residents have social interaction and assistance with things like taxes or medical equipment.

With an aging population, the demand for the senior center’s services will only increase in future years — and the center’s leaders are wise to look at options for expansion.

Powell Senior Center officials are moving forward with plans to build a new center near the Rocky Mountain Manor; the Powell City Council recently agreed to be the fiscal agent on a request for a $500,000 grant.

While the project will take several years to become a reality, it’s good to see the community considering how it can best serve our senior population.

In Powell, nearly 18 percent of local residents are 65 years old or over, according to 2018 Census data. That puts Powell slightly above the state average of 15.8 percent.

In coming years, Wyoming may become the oldest state in the U.S., with a greater portion of seniors than anywhere else in the country. By 2030, the elderly population in the state is expected to reach 139,500 — or over 20 percent of the state’s total residents, according to the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division.

Considering that many Cowboy State residents take pride in their independence, seniors want to continue living on their own at home as long as possible.

“With our agricultural strengths here, so many of our seniors are from that agricultural background and still live on their homesteads,” said Cathy Florian, program director at the Powell Senior Citizens Center.

The senior center helps facilitate independent living by delivering meals to rural residents as well as those in town. Sometimes, a knock at the door to check on an elderly resident can be just as important as the meal itself.

The elderly can be an overlooked and vulnerable population, especially for seniors who don’t have family living close by. While churches and other local organizations do their part to care for the elderly, the Powell Senior Citizens Center plays a big role in the day-to-day work of helping older residents. The center is an asset to our community, and one that is worth investing in for the future.

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