eMacomb - Progress Through Partnerships, May 2010
Seniors Count: The Aging of Macomb County
In the summer of 2008 the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development (MCPED) published “The Aging of Macomb County.” This multi-phased initiative was a response to the alarming projection that 1 in 4 of Macomb County residents would be over the age of 65 by the year 2030. The County understood that these resounding figures would have a profound impact on the physical, social, and economic landscape of each local unit of government. In order to properly plan for the evolution of the County’s citizenry, MCPED took a proactive approach to cultivating and supporting livable communities for all generations.
“The Aging of Macomb County” sought to establish collaborative efforts with key stakeholders throughout the County, Region, and State in order to address the evolving needs of Macomb County’s growing elderly population. Utilizing “Phase 1” as an outreach and awareness piece, MCPED was able to establish a significant demographic examination of the County’s aging cohort and establish economic, physical, and social policy objectives for local governments and stakeholder groups.
Since the inception of “The Aging of Macomb County,” MCPED has been able to fulfill a number of objectives set forth by the Initiative. Focusing on the outreach and awareness components of “Phase 1,” MCPED has had a considerable amount of success partnering with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan. MCPED, alongside senior service provides throughout the Tri-County Region, has been an active member of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan Senior Regional Collaborative. The ultimate goal of this group is to help improve the quality of life for seniors and the community at large by identifying the major factors impacting them, creating a comprehensive plan to address the issues, and raising awareness of the issues, challenges and opportunities presented by the aging of our population.
As an active participant in this regional undertaking, MCPED has been involved in a number of advocacy and planning sessions, which have produced a series of noteworthy deliverables. The preeminent accomplishment of this group is the facilitating of an ongoing regional committee that is now made up of twenty-five non-profit organizations in the tri-county area. These organizations continually work in tandem with local and state governments to provide services to over 425,000 of Michigan’s vulnerable seniors.
The Senior Regional Collaborative also recently published "A Needs Assessment of Older Adults in the Tri-County Area." This comprehensive study utilized focus groups and surveys to develop a framework for advocacy, planning, and program development that will address the needs and contributions of the growing older adult population in Southeast Michigan.
In March of 2010 the Senior Regional Collaborative held an advocacy session with Governor Jennifer Granholm. The advocacy session provided the Governor with an opportunity to obtain an overview of the regional undertakings’ accomplishments, and explain the State’s vision for social service provision. MCPED will continue to interact with the United Way Senior Regional Collaborative, in hopes of strengthening a regional voice for senior advocacy and planning.
MCPED has also been fortunate to be engaged with the Seniors Count initiative. Seniors Count is a joint venture between Adult Well-Being Services and the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University. This group is focused on collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data on older adults in southeast Michigan to help influence the way our communities prepare for an older population. As a member of the Advisory Committee, MCPED has been involved in the processing and analysis of demographic, economic, and social characteristics of the region’s elderly population.
Seniors Count has focused on utilizing white papers that will highlight different “Data Domains,” which will emphasize important service and program areas for seniors. Spanning from economics to transportation, these white papers will provide senior service providers throughout the region with valuable qualitative research that will undoubtedly support program objectives.
“The Aging of Macomb County” has provided MPCED with several fruitful partnerships. MCPED understands that there is a considerable amount of work that needs to be done across the County and Region. However, the refreshing realization is that Macomb County has positioned itself to harness the many opportunities associated with an aging population. “The Aging of Macomb County” has fortified the County’s vision for senior service provision and outreach.
As the initiative continues, the County and its endless network of stakeholders will strive to meet the ever changing needs of the County’s aging population, and create environments that will allow people to age with dignity and pride.