Paul Kusuda’s column
We're all getting old
By Paul H. Kusuda

It’s a truism that most of us don’t think about very often, but as long as we breathe, we get
older and older.  And we journey to the inevitable with almost all of us not knowing when the
end will come.  Unfortunately, for some the end is not only known but welcome.

An undated but recent report by David Baer, AARP Public Policy Institute (State Handbook of
Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Indicators 2008) included a tabular presentation
showing that Wisconsin’s population in 1996 was estimated as 5,173,828 in 1996 and
5,556,506 in 2006, an increase of 7.4 percent.  (Since then, of course, population growth has
continued.)  In 2006, persons 65 years of age or older were estimated to be 724,034 or 13.0
percent of the total population, women comprising more than half. I requested and received a
more recent publication, Wisconsin State Strategic Plan PY 2012-2015, Senior Community
Services Employment Program, authored by the Division of Long Term Care of the Wisconsin
Department of Health Services, since I am concerned about employment/re-employment of
older adults.  For the past few years during the current Recession, the number of
Planning for anticipated needs of the state’s
older population is critical because as noted
in the Bureau of Aging and Disability
Resources (State Department of Health
Services) 2013-2015 Wisconsin Plan for
Older People:   “The most visible change
over the coming quarter-century will be the
escalating share of the population that is 65
and older…Wisconsin’s younger (under 65)
population is expected to grow by less than
four percent while the 65+ population nearly
doubles, increasing by 90 percent.”    Maybe,
the younger folk should be more concerned
than I.  At any rate, I’m glad that the state’s
Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources is
dealing with the issues despite constantly
diminishing fiscal resources.  The Older
Americans Act depends upon the states to
implement its goals and objectives.  When
public funds are short, how much can be
unemployed went up, and its decline has not been encouraging.  Older workers have a tougher time than younger, and laid-
off workers have it even tougher.  Thus, older workers who had been laid off have the toughest time of all.  So, that’s my
concern as a long-time advocate for the elderly.

Because 2010 U.S. Census data were not available to be included in the Strategic Plan report published September 15,
2012, data for the previous Census, viz., 2000, had to be used.   For program planning purposes, however, the data were
useful.  Social agencies may use report findings in setting goals for helping unemployed persons aged 55 or older.  Many
may have less-than-good potential for employment, especially for jobs that require skills or knowledges that are not present
to the degree needed.  The Wisconsin Senior Community Services Program, funded through the federal government’s
Older Americans Act, promotes part-time opportunities in community service activities for unemployed low-income persons
55 years of age or older who have poor employment prospects.  

The 2000 Decennial Census showed that 68 percent of Wisconsin’s population lived in urban areas and 32 in rural.  It also
showed that of the state’s 72 counties, 20 lost population, a couple as much as 13 and 14 percent in ten years.  I’m sure
that trend continued into 2010 and later because during the current Recession factories and businesses closed or moved
to other locations outside Wisconsin.  That led to families moving from rural counties to urban centers where jobs might be
available.  Unfortunately, employment was not plentiful, so both under-employment and unemployment resulted.  Training,
retraining, job-finding, and other barriers are not easily resolved.  Individuals are ill-equipped to overcome them.  It
becomes abundantly clear that social agencies must be involved to meet service and other needs.

To carry out part of its responsibilities, the Senior Community Services Employment Program convened a group of
organizational representatives to formulate a plan to develop a system of coordinated services.  They reviewed areas of
concern and suggested ways to meet such issues as access to and costs of transportation, employment opportunities,
education, lack of skills, barriers faced by racial minorities (including English proficiency), and communication skills.  This
coordinated approach to meeting the employment needs of older adults shows promise and follows well the intent of the
Older Americans Act.