Longer Lives, New Challenges: How Increased Life Expectancy is Shaping the Future of Our Safety Net

Local Aging Departments in Maryland are experiencing shortfalls in the face of the rising needs of older residents living longer than before.

In a Herald Mail article, Maryland’s new Secretary of Aging, Carmel Roques, says federal, state, and county services for older Americans are not ready for the level of need that is coming. In an address to the Washington County Commission on Aging, Secretary Roques pointed out that half of the five-year-olds alive today will live to be 100. From the article:

The fastest growing demographic in the 65-plus group are over the age of 85, said Roques. This is the period in seniors’ lives, she said, when people start to need service in order to be independent.

With longer life expectancy and population growth, the models of the past are insufficient for calculating the funds needed to provide services in the future. The shortfalls are already being experienced at the county level, according to the article in Washington, Dorchester, and Worcester counties.

 “There’s a growth in the need, but not necessarily a corresponding growth in support.” – Secretary Roques

The Washington County Commission on Aging expressed the need for resources over sentiments, especially as the county budget process for FY24 came to a close. They were experiencing a $139,000 shortfall from the previous year despite an allocation from the county, around $970,000, on top of state and federal funding. As a result, the Commission this year requested $1.8M and will receive around $1M.

Read the full article from Dwight A. Weingarten at the Herald Mail.