Rapid City leaders work to keep up with changing senior demograp - KOTA Territory News

Rapid City leaders work to keep up with changing senior demographics

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As the demographics of the senior citizen population start to change throughout Rapid City and the country, the needs of that population also change.

But what do baby boomers need and want as they enter the golden years?

That's the $30,000 question.

That's how much the city gave the John T. Vucurevich foundation to conduct a senior survey.
 
"It was kind of a three- or four-pronged approach," said foundation executive director Sandy Diegel.
 
Along with talking to current senior citizens, Diegel said the group sought out future seniors -- people in the their fifties.
 
"What exists in the community, what doesn't exist in the community, and what do people want in those different age ranges," Diegel said, describing the questions the survey aims to answer. "So what will the future of senior services look like?"
 
That's a tough question to answer.
 
"Maybe the music needs to change for the baby boomer generation," Greg Johnson, director of the Minneluzahan Senior Center, said.
 
But the city has considered much bigger changes, like building a senior services center and cutting funding to current senior centers.

It's not a very popular proposal in Johnson's eyes.
 
"If you think about what a few thousand dollars difference would mean here," he said, "that's a lot of rummage sales, that's a lot of bake sales."
 
That means senior centers have to keep up with the "silver tsunami," a term used to describe the boomer generation's entry into senior citizen-hood.
 
"The senior center, of course, is currently being run by the current generation of seniors," Johnson said.
 
So the center is caught between providing the right services now and preparing for new services down the road.
 
"You're going to have to have activities that are more tailored to younger seniors," he added.
 
Those are the activities -- and resources -- the city hopes to pinpoint with the survey.
 
"The ultimate goal is just to determine what the needs are for seniors," Diegel said, "what do seniors want"

Also at issue is figuring out how to get more seniors active: Johnson said that of the center's 600 members, only about 100 are highly involved.

The results of the survey are expected by the end of the year.

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