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A sneak peek at the face of aging in Milwaukee County

Community EngAGEment: Aging News and Information

Provided by the Milwaukee County Department on Aging

Pictured above is the front cover of demographic report, The Face of Aging in Milwaukee County 2012.

Welcome to the first column of “Community EngAGEment”, your source for news and information related to services, programs, opportunities, and public policy and advocacy updates for older adults living in Milwaukee County.

Regarded by AARP in 2009 as “One of the best places to grow old”, Milwaukee has a rich culture of innovative and rewarding experiences for older adults. Everyone should be focusing on aging –community centers, housing, medical and health professionals, university and college programs, human service providers, and policymakers, among others. For the past decade, this evolving population has been a hot topic for various industry professionals wanting to stay ahead of the curve to create groundbreaking practices that will support and improve social and economic existence.

Why is everyone gearing up for our current and future seniors? The answer is in a recently released demographic report, The Face of Aging in Milwaukee County, 2012. It is the third report of its type published by the Milwaukee County Department on Aging in partnership with the Center for Urban Population Health, AARP, UW–Madison Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute Milwaukee Outreach Office, and Helen Bader Foundation. The United States 2010 Census was used as a principal source of data for the report. The demographic report highlights the state of our aging community and helps community leaders, funders, advocates, policymakers, and aging service providers prepare for the needs of an emergent older adult population.

To assist you with understanding what is going on with older adults in Milwaukee County, let’s take a look at the state of our aging community.

• Milwaukee County’s older adult population is expected to increase from nearly 153,000 in 2010 to as many as 216,000 or by 28 percent in 2035.

• The African American aging population has grown by 27 percent and Hispanic or Latino older adults populations increased by 40 percent in Milwaukee County from 2000 to 2010, while the population of White older adults decreased slightly.

• Milwaukee County experienced the largest increase, 40 percent plus, in the 55-59 and 60-64 year old age groups. The 55-59 year old category has a 49 percent increase. This could quite possibly mean as this age group continues to age, these are the adults we will need to be prepared to not only provide services to, but also to have employment, social engagement, and meaningful volunteer opportunities available.

• Older adults are more educated and have higher incomes than people of this same age group had in 2000.

• More than 75 percent of Milwaukee County older adults report having good or very good health. As it relates to “perceived quality of health”, older adults in Milwaukee County are five percentage points above the national average in this category. Conversely, Milwaukee County older adults are dying at higher rates than people of the same (60 plus) age group in other parts of Wisconsin.

• With the advancement of health care and public health, people are living longer, yet waistlines are larger resulting in an increase in chronic health conditions and a growing rate of Alzheimer’s disease.

• Milwaukee County has a higher number of older adults living alone and this statistic includes more women than men.

• Milwaukee County is quite racially and ethnically segregated. The south suburbs have seen the biggest increases in the older adult population between 2000 and 2010 with Franklin at a 74 percent increase and Oak Creek with a 59 percent increase. White adults comprise 95 percent of these communities.

• The poverty level for seniors 65 plus remains steady at 9% despite the fact older adults across all races and ethnic groups saw a slight reduction in the number of people living in poverty. However, the poverty rate for people of color is three times that of their white counterparts.

Given these insights into the state of our aging population, it is extremely important for us to address needs, gain awareness, and appreciate the contributions made by older adults. The Face of Aging in Milwaukee County, 2012 is a helpful resource created to assist you with looking at current older adults and future trends, i.e., what is going on in their lives and how the demographic composition of older adults might impact the community. Our hope is that readers will use or pass along the information summarized in this article and the report to guide how:

• Services will be provided

• Funds will be directed

• Advocates will push issues and support policies

• Employers will develop their workforce along with the many other opportunities this information brings

If you are interested in viewing or downloading The Face of Aging In Milwaukee County, 2012 demographic report, visit the Milwaukee County Department on Aging website at You may also obtain a copy of the report by calling 414-289-5950.

This is the first of a series of articles the Milwaukee County Department on Aging will publish under the Milwaukee Courier’s Community EngAGEment column. Our goal is to keep the community informed and aware of opportunities, events, and choices that will help older adults age with dignity.

Upcoming Opportunities:

• If you know an extraordinary older adult who excels in volunteering, we are accepting nominations for him or her to be recognized in the Milwaukee County Senior Citizen Hall of Fame. Deadline: Tuesday, February 11, 2013. Please contact Jill Knight at 289-6794 or for nomination information or to obtain an application.

• NEW at our five county-owned senior centers, UW–Milwaukee is offering free yearly fitness assessments for older adults. Senior centers are conveniently located at Clinton and Bernice Rose, McGovern, Washington, Wilson, and Lawrence P. Kelly Milwaukee County parks. To learn more and obtain details, contact Randal Kohl at 414-289-6633 or

• Beginning Friday, March 1, 2013 , Milwaukee County Golden Idol applications will be available at all Milwaukee County senior centers. If you or someone you know has a performing arts talent, do not miss this opportunity. Contact Diane Beckley at 414-289- 6376 or for information and an application.

To learn about Milwaukee County Department on Aging services and programs, please call 414-289-6874 or visit our website at

The mission of the Milwaukee County Department on Aging is to affirm the dignity and value of older adults of Milwaukee County by supporting their choices for living in, and giving to, our community.