Vail Daily column: Community prepares for demographic shift | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Community prepares for demographic shift

Judson Haims
My View

Sixty-five-plus and considering a move to Vail?

Vail is a great place to live. With phenomenal beauty, great people and unlimited activities, living in the mountain communities for many is heaven on earth.

How is our community making preparations for a growth in an older demographic and what will this population look for when considering a possible move to our community?

There will be an estimated 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day for the next 30 or so years. For those of us who have already chosen to move to Colorado and for those who are finding out about the great offerings the state provides, this may come as no surprise: Colorado is the fifth fastest growing state in the nation. According to U.S. Census estimates from the years 2000 to 2010, Colorado’s senior population grew at more than 17 percent. At a growth rate of 25.3 percent, Eagle County was Colorado’s fifth-fastest growing county from 2000 to 2010.

A RAPIDLY GROWING GROUP

However, our community’s population and demographic make-up is changing. Here in Eagle County, Census data states that from 2010 to 2020 we will experience a growth rate of 157 percent in persons age 65 and older. Greater growth lays ahead as the same data indicates that from 2010 to 2030 the growth rate will accelerate to about 333 percent.

Preparing our communities for this growth is going to pose some challenges. Tax revenues, medical offerings, housing, land planning, parks and recreation and transportation are just a few of the areas that are going to need to be adjusted. Our communities will need to become active partners with our policy makers and community leaders in order to develop a sustainable plan for a functional community.

DIFFICULTIES FOR RURAL HOSPITALS

Absorbing the impact of policy and market changes is often quite difficult for rural hospitals. In many parts of the country, rural hospitals are forming networks with near-by metropolitan hospitals and primary care providers. This is in an effort to find cost savings and best practices that can help meet new and changing federal and state regulations. It takes a large investment in quality personnel and equipment to sustain rural hospitals.

Since the Vail Valley Medical Center benefits greatly from our extraordinary orthopedic practices, the hospital is insulated a bit from the small profit margins and patient volumes that often plague many rural hospitals. Managing financial reserves and gaining access to the capital required to allow for large investments in the latest technologies are always needed in order to position our medical providers for success.

As baby boomers increase their presence in our community, the demand for medical specialists in elder care will increase greatly. Thus, one of the questions many prospective community members may consider will be the available medical services.

The challenge to extend access, quality and affordable care beyond the boundaries of large cities is rapidly growing. Vail Valley Medical Center is aware of such need for change and is being quite proactive. The hospital recently added a cardiac cath lab to the services it provides. Additionally, the hospital recently announced the addition of an endocrinologist. While our community lacks a geriatric department, hopefully, this too will soon come and provide a greater breadth of services to our valley.

Our community is well into the process of demographic change and we are taking measures to respond. A new and major asset to our community is coming — the Castle Peak Senior Care Community. The Castle Peak facility is going to contribute to our community in many ways. Foremost, the facility will increase our ability to attract and sustain our elder population. Castle Peak will provide skilled nursing, memory care, physical rehabilitation, and assisted living.

The ability to meet the changing medical needs of our population may prove to be a considerable factor for many when considering a move here.

In order to better understand and plan for the future needs and services of our community, we will need to reach out and hear from those persons both currently living here and those considering a move here.

Your input, suggestions and comments would be most appreciated. Below is a Web address to go to contribute your input. Please take a moment to answer a few questions and provide your insight at http://www.wshc.net.

It is going to take a tremendous amount of organizations to collaborate and address what lies ahead. There will be great benefits both economical and societal to our community as we address the demographic changes that lay ahead.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.