Over the past few weeks, I've been on Oakland Avenue a number of times (not a scientific study), but it seems that the majority of people walking there are senior citizens.
I suppose this is the result of that growing age segment of our demographics. There are surveys that indicate that communities need now to take into account more of the needs of our older adults than they have in the past.
Many of our policies here in Shorewood are still aimed at the needs of two-adult headed families and there children. Yet there is a growing proportion of one-adult led families, a lower birth rate and later-age marriages.
The divorce rate is fairly high and the strong cultural inclinations toward marriage has been falling according to those who study these trends. These are significant cultural changes which affect the future local government policies.
Shorewood seems to be ignoring these new trends and even when dealing with any issues of elderly needs, Village Hall has leaned more toward private enterprise solutions because of the Village's commitment to tax base expansion.
A recent Wall Street article indicated that 89% of older adults prefer to live at home. In the long run then it would seem that our society should be considering the consequences of these needs rather than merely considering large privately operated taxpaying elderly care homes
What does a larger proportion of older population staying in their own homes for a longer portion of their lives mean to a community like Shorewood? This is broad question that needs consideration.
In a specific way this may mean that older adults are not going to make extensive improvements and therefore not add much to the tax base.
It may also mean that required upkeep of the property may be deferred, lowering the quality and the values of these properties.
Some seniors, we already know, live alone and need in-home services. Where does group-home living fit into these new circumstances? Should the Village give consideration to group-conversion?
The developing situation has various ramifications touching on a number of social issues.
I am recommending to our Village Board that we establish a commission made up of people who are already interested, if not involved in providing services for older adults, to give broader consideration to what these trends and present conditions here in the village will mean to all of us in the near future.
These trends will not only affect the services that our local government may need to provide, but they are already affecting our school enrollment, our revenues and our tax base.
Attracting business to Oakland Avenue may only be a part of what our Village responsibilities are. We may have borader social responsibilities as well.