The Garden City Telegram
10/3/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Older set

Community should consider ways to appeal to all ages.

When it comes to economic development, strategies must go beyond bringing in businesses. Efforts to draw and keep people here also matter.

And those efforts don't always focus on just the younger set, as indicated during a recent Finney County Economic Development Corp. meeting.

Discussion included a plan to ask the city and county to fund a study of the local need for senior housing, assisted living and full-service senior care facilities.

The FCEDC was in part responding to queries from members of the local medical community who asked whether enough was being done to address those areas, especially at a time of growth in the community.

It's a valid concern amid the graying of America, with an increasing number of people older than 60. Every community must address the trend.

In Finney County, some older residents choose to move away because of difficulty finding the care they need or lifestyle they would prefer.

For example, older couples interested in downsizing into a townhouse or condominium have fewer options in the midst of a housing shortage. And, families often see loved ones move out of town to senior living facilities.

While the community does promote its good schools and health care offerings, great golf courses, impressive zoo, retail opportunities and other quality-of-life amenities to prospective residents of all ages, the study pitched by the FCEDC would help hospitals, retirement communities and other health care and social service providers create strategies to meet the needs of local seniors.

Findings of such a study also could entice developers.

An investment of about $20,000 for the study would pay off many times over should builders decide to capitalize on the potential in new housing and care facilities. Such ventures also could go a long way in encouraging other developments that improve local quality of life.

The Garden City Commission signed off on the study, and the Finney County Commission should do the same when asked.

It's necessary to be as proactive as possible, which is why pursuit of a senior housing study to help fill in the blanks makes sense.