Aging Budget Shrinks As Need Grows

January 23, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

The county's senior population will have to do a lot more with a lotless next year, because its numbers are growing as revenue is decreasing, a group of senior citizens in Columbia was told Tuesday.

Susan Rosenbaum, administrative assistant in the county Office on Aging,told the Senior Advocates group that her office has already had to pare $78,000, or 7 percent, from this year's budget because of the county's economic crisis.

"We are trying not to affect services," Rosenbaum said. But each senior now receiving benefits "will receive less" next year because there are more people joining their ranks.

Not only that, but the number of countians 85 and older -- the group of seniors requiring themost expensive services -- is also growing rapidly, Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum said her office has been asked to make cuts in next year's budget as well as this year's, but was not prepared to say how much. She made her remarks following a talk by County Council chairman C. Vernon Gray.

Gray told the seniors that in addition to being thefastest-growing population nationally, the numbers of people 60 and older also have increasedtremendously in Howard County -- 90 percent in the past decade.

The numbers of people 55 and older have increased 12 percent in the last 10 years, Gray said, and the number of people 85 and older has more than doubled.

Gray told the gathering that 70 percent of the county's senior population own their own homes and 65 percent have household incomes of $30,000 or more. But among non-married seniors, a startling 32 percent have annual incomes of lessthan $10,000, Gray said.

Also, he said, there are three times as many elderly men who are married as their are elderly women, meaning that elderly men marry younger women.

What is needed here, Gray said, are "updated demographics in order to craft the necessary programs" for senior populations.

"The reasons that led most people to move to suburbia are the things that become problems when they become elderly," Gray said.

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