Scottsdale was singled out for its innovation in a study of U.S. cities that showed most are unprepared for an aging population.
“The Maturing of America — Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population” report released Wednesday shows just 46 percent of the nation’s communities have taken steps to deal with the needs of the baby boomer generation — those born between 1946 and 1964.
The study, led by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, touched on issues such as health care, nutrition, exercise, transportation, public safety, housing, work force development and volunteer opportunities. The report was funded by the MetLife Foundation.
Scottsdale was singled out as one of the top 10 cities with “great ideas” because of a program that trains teenagers to assist low-income seniors or disabled residents with home improve- ment projects.
Scottsdale Teens on a Mission for Progress has received 650 queries since it began in 2004, and the teens have completed 75 projects, said Jan Cameron, human services manager at the Via Linda Senior Center.
“Our goal really is to play a role in extending independence,” Cameron said. “We do the cleanup and make it manageable for them. We help them maintain their dignity.”
The city also was cited under the public safety category for its lockbox program, which began in 2004.
Through the program, real estate agents provide lockboxes to the elderly and residents with disabilities. In case of an emergency, police and fire personnel can access a home without forcing entry.
Scottsdale Crime Prevention officer Kory Sneed said 300 lockboxes have been distributed, and officers have used them on multiple occasions.
The study surveyed 10,000 local governments to determine services provided, the “livability” of the community and efforts to use the talents of older residents.
The report recommended communities provide walking trails for fitness, larger road signs for older drivers, tax assistance for those in financial need, part- and flex-time work options and numerous housing options for older residents.
The study points out that the number of Americans over 65 is expected to reach 71.5 million by 2030, and that few communities have assessed whether they are “elder-friendly.”
In 2000, Scottsdale ranked ninth among major cities for the number of residents 65 and over.
Connie James, Scottsdale Human Services director, said the city does a good job meeting the needs of an aging population, but will face difficulties as the group grows.
“Transportation always needs improving . . . services like home-delivered meals continue to be challenged. Any type of home-health service that’s affordable is a huge challenge,” she said.
Cindy Cooke, director of Boomerz, said the work culture is not ready to accommodate the kind of flexibility the baby boomer generation needs.
Boomerz is a Scottsdale organization dedicated to connecting those who want more midlife options with volunteer and career opportunities.
“Boomers don’t age,” Cooke said. “We don’t ever use the word ‘aging,’ ‘old’ or ‘retired.’ ”
Scottsdale senior services
• Classes in aerobics, computers, Spanish and art.
• Open computer labs and fitness center.
• Screenings for hearing, vision and blood pressure and clinics for flu shot. Counseling, support groups and depression screening.
• Groceries and home-delivered meals for those who qualify.
• Volunteer opportunities, reduced bus fare and vouchers for Cab Connection, a city-subsidized ride service.