Doris Dewton
Valley Voices

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July 25, 2014
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Vail Daily column: A hole in the bucket

There’s no way around it — my generation of baby boomers is growing older. In Eagle County alone, the number of adults aged 75 and older is projected to increase by 222 percent between 2010 and 2020. Without appropriate care, many could potentially leave our community — and leave a gaping hole in our local economy.

A recent study by an economist at Colorado State University projects an annual $43 million loss to the economy of Eagle County if baby boomers and others in their 70s and 80s leave the area. In more tangible terms, the loss would equate to 1,185 people vanishing from Eagle County by 2020. What would that look like on the ground?

Each household in the county typically employs five to seven people for landscaping, maintenance and other work. Multiply that by 1,185 and you have more than 5,000 people poised to lose jobs. Merchants would also be hard hit by the departure of older residents, who typically spend more than younger people.

In addition, people in their 40s and 50s could leave the county to care for parents in other parts of the country if care is not available here. When too many residents leave, we’re left with the equivalent of a leaky bucket; as more and more leaks out, less is available to those who remain. That means local residents’ pension funds, annuities and other assets will leak out of the bucket too.

Although we can’t stop everyone from leaving, the CSU study shows many people aged 65 and over want to stay in Eagle County. I am one of them, having moved here full-time 20 years ago from Washington, D.C., when my husband retired. Sadly, I have spent too many hours saying goodbye to dear friends who have had to move because they needed care that was not available here.

While our community is blessed with healthy, active people in their 80s and 90s, there is no guarantee that anyone can enjoy perfect health in perpetuity. There is no question that a care community is a necessity if Eagle County residents are going to thrive in the future.

The Castle Peak Senior Care Community will help reduce the number of people who have to leave Eagle County due to lack of appropriate care. Instead of leaving to care for family members elsewhere, we can invite loved ones here and provide a wealth of options to them. Assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing will all be available, in addition to rehabilitation for people of all ages.

Another exciting aspect of the Castle Peak Senior Care Community is the jobs it will bring with it. The care community is projected to create 100 jobs during construction and 65 permanent jobs when operating. Talk about plugging a hole in our bucket!

The journey we’ve taken to build Castle Peak has been a long one, and could not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of countless individuals and Augustana Care. As we get closer and closer to reaching our goal, we must not forget that contributions are still needed to complete our capital campaign.

By supporting the Castle Peak Senior Care Community, you are not just creating a beautiful space for older adults and others in need of care. You are planting seeds to help maintain a strong economy in Eagle County now and for generations to come. Please visit www.CastlePeak.org. You may also contact campaign coordinator Matt Scherr directly at mscherr@augustanacare.org or 970-445-8990.

I am pleased to say there is only $134,000 left to raise to complete the capital campaign. Your help is needed to make this happen.

Doris Dewton has lived full-time in Eagle County since 1994 and was named the Vail Valley Foundation Volunteer of the Year in 2010. She serves on Augustana Care’s Castle Peak Senior Care Community Board of Directors.

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 25, 2014 07:48PM Published Jul 25, 2014 03:48PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.