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Serving our elders

Alex Miller

Eagle County is many things to many people, but it’s never going to be known as a destination retirement community like those in Florida or Arizona. Even so, there are plenty of locals who have no desire to ever leave the High Country, and only do so because of the lack of facilities to care for them in their later years.Our population is growing, and it is aging. By now that’s hardly news. What was once almost the exclusive province of the under-40 set is now seeing an increase in those over 60, with the number expected to rise 64 percent in the next five years alone. How we serve these people – many of whom are long-time members of our community – is a good indicator of our commitment to all members of our society. We simply can’t ignore the needs of one whole segment of the population.So it was encouraging to hear Eagle County’s commissioners talking recently about the imperative to act soon on an assisted-living facility. In one of those rare moments of political honesty, Commissioner Tom Stone said he actually felt “delinquent” on the issue, pressing to find room in the 2006 budget to get the ball rolling. Also heartening is the notion of setting aside at least a quarter of the rooms to seniors on limited incomes.For years, residents in our mountain communities have had to make heart-rending choices about what to do and where to live when they can no longer take care of themselves. Until we have something here in Eagle County, those choices will always be limited to living elsewhere. Even if it’s as close as Glenwood Springs, that can still be a tough situation for a family, especially when it means one member of an elderly couple having to drive many miles in winter conditions. And Glenwood just isn’t Eagle County.We look forward to hearing more about plans from the county to create an assisted-living facility here in the not-too-distant future. It’s an easy, although not inexpensive, thing for the community to get behind. And it will say a lot about our commitment to serve all ages in Eagle County – from cradle to grave.Vail, Colorado


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