Aging population grows in Oak Creek
Those 60 and older increased by 56 percent, but they remain only 16 percent of total
According to a recent study by the Milwaukee County on Aging, Oak Creek has the second-highest growth in the Milwaukee area for senior population from 2000-2010.
The study shows Oak Creek's total aging population growth to be 55 percent. Franklin was number one, with a whopping 74 percent increase in elderly population.
Census data also shows that Oak Creek's 60-and-older population made up 12 percent of the total population in 2000 with 3,491 people. That percentage increased to 16 by 2010 to a total population of 5,539.
Older, yet younger
Despite that dramatic increase, Oak Creek is noticeably younger in another respect: percentage of those 60 and older against the city's total population, which saw a giant leap from 2000 to 2010 with a total increase of 6,170 people, or 21.6 percent.
Out of all the Milwaukee County areas, Oak Creek fell toward the bottom of the percentage chart of elderly population, with one community matching the percentage and two lower. There are 15 Milwaukee County communities with a higher elderly percentage than Oak Creek, according to the study.
The highest two, Glendale and Whitefish Bay at 30 percent, have nearly double Oak Creek's elderly percentage. The city of Milwaukee has the lowest elderly percentage at 13 percent.
While the numbers may not be as dramatic when looked at the population as a whole, Oak Creek falls in the same vein as Milwaukee County: a general increase in the percentage of elderly residents.
Dramatic or not, the fact remains that the aging population is increasing, which is something communities must deal with, said one county official whose job focuses on the elderly.
Stephanie Stein, the director of the Milwaukee County Department on Aging, suggests city administrators and planners begin implementing amenities for the population.
Such amenities include outdoor leisurely recreation, chore and home repair services and transportation services for the elderly.
Stein lauded Oak Creek's proposed addition of parkland in the city's lakefront redevelopment strategy and the proposal for a new library. She said that those two developments provide crucial recreational services for the retired population.
"If you build livable and sustainable communities, it benefits everybody," Stein said. "If older people have a place to walk, then so do moms and their kids."
While these programs were great, the community could do more, she added, citing as one example a West Allis high school program that pairs students with the elderly to help shovel snow.
The highest numbers among the elderly in the study were in the 60-70-year-old range. Stein said that when the 60-70-year-old population hits 70-80 in the next 10 years, there will be a substantial rise in the need for services.
The Aging Resource Center also has a hotline for anyone in the Milwaukee area to call, (414) 289-6874.
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