Taking Care of Our Seniors: An Assessment of Utah’s Aging Services

The oldest Baby Boomers turn seventy this year. Though Utah is known as a young state, older adults represent more than ten percent of the population, and their numbers are increasing rapidly. Though there have been initiatives in the past, there is currently no state plan to address the needs of the growing senior population.

This report describes some of the most critical services that the state’s twelve Area Agencies on Aging offer to seniors, including nutrition programs, caregiver services, and transportation. The report analyzes these services and anticipates future funding needs required to meet the projected changes in this demographic. Utah Foundation estimates that in order to keep pace with population growth the Area Agencies on Aging will need additional funds ranging between $366,999 and $548,422 every year until 2030 for a total between $5.9 and $8.8 million. This additional funding would help AAA directors with their economic planning, but it could also save Utah taxpayers money in the long run.

FINDINGS:

  • Utah’s senior population is growing rapidly. By 2030 Utah’s senior population will make up more than 13% of the state.
    The vast majority of seniors want to age in place. Aging services make it more likely that seniors will be able to stay in their own homes.
  • More than 10% of Utah seniors rely on nutrition programs like senior center meals and Meals on Wheels.
  • There are 336,000 caregivers in Utah who provide 90% of the care for seniors. Less than 1% of caregivers use state or local support services.
  • Every county in the state has a waiting list for caregiver respite services because these services are inadequately funded.
  • Transportation services for seniors are scarce, especially in rural areas of the state, which impedes senior mobility and independence.
  • State programs like Alternatives that provide services such as household chores and personal care are critical for helping vulnerable seniors remain at home instead of entering residential facilities.

 

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