Not only are there more senior citizens than ever before, they are also more active than ever before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Administration on Aging, as well as two area business women who interact daily with senior citizens.
In recognition of senior citizens across the country, the month of May has been designated as Older Americans Month, with this year’s theme being “Unleash the Power of Age!” Communities across the nation will recognize older Americans as productive, active and influential members of society. Older Americans Month has been observed each year since 1963, under the leadership of the U.S. Administration on Aging.
Bureau County Senior Center Director Denise Ihrig said the senior center is definitely seeing an increase in the number of senior citizens coming to the center. She’s been with the senior center for seven years, and some staff members have been there more than 10 years.
“We believe that increase is because of seniors continuing to stay active longer,’ she said.
Established in 1981 as a facility for senior citizens, the Bureau County Senior Center is always trying to provide more activities for seniors of all ages, Ihrig said. When there are requests, the center tries to plan them. Staff members are trained to answer all questions, and if not, they will make connections with the area Area Agency on Aging to get the answer or find the agency that will provide the service, she said.
A big misconception about senior citizens is that they are all old people who don’t do anything but sit around and watch television, Ihrig said.
“This could not be any further from the truth. Seniors today are working, traveling, taking care of their grandchildren, and or even taking care of their parents,” Ihrig said. “Today, seniors are more able to be in control of their selves, their belongings, their lives. They are still mobile. They want to live more independently, have enough money to purchase their medications and food and to be able to spend time with family.”
On Monday, Bureau County Metro Center Executive Director Elaine Russell said the Metro Center is more than a location for seniors to come to take care of their health. There is also more and more socialization that comes with seniors at the facility, as seniors meet to walk the track together, take classes together, or just sit afterwards and have coffee together, which the Metro Center offers for 25 cents. Many seniors then leave and have breakfast or lunch together in groups, Russell added.
Of course, the Metro Center has a great variety of classes, including land and water fitness classes designed for seniors; a cardio room full of machines they can use for both upper and lower body strengthening; and weight room machines that focus on areas of concern. Obviously there is also the walking track which is used all the time, especially when the weather is bad, as well as the Princeton parks, including the walking path around Zearing Park, she said.
During her 20 years at the Metro Center, her view of seniors has changed, Russell said.
“Those who I thought were seniors then were actually my current young age of 62. We have members who are in their 90s who visit us daily or every other day,” Russell said.
From the view of the Princeton Park District and Metro Center, senior citizens are certainly an active group, Russell said. Of the approximately 2,000 memberships at the Metro Center, 172 are single senior citizen memberships and 301 are senior couples.
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Seniors by the numbers
• 43.1 million. The number of people who were 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2012. This group accounted for 13.7 percent of the total population.
• 92.0 million. Projected population of people 65 and older in 2060. People in this age group would comprise just over one in five U.S. residents at that time. Of this number, 18.2 million would be 85 or older.
• 2.4 million. Projected number of baby boomers in 2060. At that time, the youngest baby boomers would be 96 years old.
• 2056. The year in which, for the first time, the population 65 and older would outnumber people younger than 18 in the United States.
• $33,848. The 2012 median income of households with householders 65 and older, not significantly different from the previous year.
• 9 percent. The percent of people 65 and older (3.9 million) who were in poverty in 2012.
• $170,516. Median net worth for householders 65 and older in 2011, down from $203,015 (in 2011 dollars) in 2005.
• 9.6 million. Estimated number of people 65 and older who were veterans of the armed forces in 2012.
• 82.6 percent. Proportion of people 65 and older in 2013 who had completed high school or higher education.
• 25.3 percent. Percentage of the population 65 and older in 2013 who had earned a bachelor's degree or higher
• 58 percent. Percentage of people 65 and older who were married in 2013.
• 26 percent. Percentage of people 65 and older in 2013 who were widowed.
• 61.8 percent. The percentage of those 65 and older who reported living in homes with computers in 2011. Additionally, 45.5 percent accessed the Internet either from home or elsewhere.
• 71.9 percent. Percentage for those 65 and older who reported casting a ballot in the 2012 presidential election.
• 80.7 percent. Percentage of householders 65 and older who owned their homes as of fourth quarter 2013.
• 53,364. The number of people age 100 and older counted by the 2010 Census. Source: U.S. Census Bureau.
Where do seniors live?
A percentage of the state's population of those people 65 years old and over
Florida - 17.3 percent
West Virginia - 16.0 percent
Maine - 15.9 percent
Pennsylvania - 15.4 percent
Iowa - 14.9 percent
Montana - 14.8 percent
Vermont - 14.6 percent
North Dakota - 14.5 percent
Arkansas - 14.4 percent
Rhode Island - 14.4 percent
Delaware - 14.4 percent
South Dakota - 14.3 percent
Hawaii - 14.3 percent
Connecticut - 14.2 percent
Ohio - 14.1 percent
Missouri - 14.0 percent
Oregon - 13.9 percent
Michigan - 13.8 percent
Arizona - 13.8 percent
Massachusetts - 13.8 percent
Alabama - 13.8 percent
Wisconsin - 13.7 percent
South Carolina - 13.7 percent
Nebraska - 13.5 percent
New York - 13.5 percent
Oklahoma - 13.5 percent
New Jersey - 13.5 percent
New Hampshire - 13.5 percent
Tennessee - 13.4 percent
Kentucky - 13.3 percent
New Mexico - 13.2 percent
Kansas - 13.2 percent
Indiana - 13.0 percent
North Carolina - 12.9 percent
Minnesota - 12.9 percent
Mississippi - 12.8 percent
Illinois - 12.5 percent
Wyoming - 12.4 percent
Idaho - 12.4 percent
Louisiana - 12.3 percent
Maryland - 12.3 percent
Washington - 12.3 percent
Virginia - 12.2 percent
Nevada - 12.0 percent
California - 11.4 percent
Colorado - 10.9 percent
Georgia - 10.7 percent
Texas - 10.3 percent
Utah - 9.0 percent
Alaska - 7.7 percent
Source: 2010 U. S. Census.