We Are the “Silver Tsunami”

By Barbara Ziegler, senior living in Jefferson County ~

There is a crisis coming our way and most people are unaware. In 1917, an article in the Denver Post warned about a “Silver Tsunami” a name” used by experts to describe the population of aging boomers expected to double by 2030.” The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care points out that many of these boomers are in an overlooked group who aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid long-term care but aren’t rich enough to easily access the abundance of high-end senior housing options on the market. The problem is particularly severe in Jefferson and Douglas Counties and Colorado at large, where populations once trended much younger. In Jefferson County alone, the 65+ population will more than double in the next 20 years.

There is much talk about “aging in place” but not much talk about what that looks like. The Jefferson County Senior Housing Study identifies important features necessary for safe and graceful aging in place. To be practical, senior housing needs to be physically accessible through main floor bedrooms and elevator buildings, zero-step entries, and universal design. Co-housing for mutual support and cost sharing is important, as is the opportunity and space continued self-employment. Most importantly, the housing environment should support a mutual exchange of services, peer-to-peer, across age groups and among individuals as well as community-wide.

This is an incredible model – but there is very little on the market today that meets any or all of these criteria. “We’ve been talking with our local governments,” said senior planner Brad Calvert. “People are struggling with the immensity of the issue: how broad and deep the challenges are. The topic is so big, they don’t know where to start.” 

But some of us are already working on a solution. Take a look at our plans for the nonprofit Trailhead Community, and let us know what you think. Email us at info@trailheadcommunity.org or call Barb Ziegler at 303.525.0668 for more information!

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