Nancy Erickson of New Solutions Inc. conducted the study for Maplewood and South Orange and presented her findings last month. The study was paid with a $35,000 grant from The Grotta Fund for Senior Care of Whippany.
It found, among other things, that Maplewood's population of residents 65 or older stands at 12%. But that is expected to rise sharply by 2021, with the 65- to 74-year-old population expected to rise by 33% and the 75- to 84-year-olds growing by 24%. The only reduction expected is in the 85 or older group, which is estimated to dip by 9%.
See the data below:
"Communities are uniquely unprepared for the growing number of older people," Erickson said, later adding, "it is important for us to look toward how we can promote livable communities for our residents."
Her findings discovered that senior residents had a number of concerns about services and activities for them in Maplewood and South Orange.
Among those findings:
* Municipal buildings and outdoor areas are in need of maintenance and repair.
* Jitney service is underutilized by seniors and they are "unsure of jitney routes, schedules, availability, accessibility and modes of access."
* Seniors have a lack of accessible and affordable housing, while taxes "are a major concern."
* More senior recreational options are requested.
* Seniors want "a voice" in planning decisions.
* There are concerns about outreach to homebound or socially isolated seniors.
* Seniors want better options for volunteering.
See the researchers' recommendations for improving senior lives below: