by Fred Stock, MSW
President & CEO
Jewish Community Services

Miami Dade County is home to the largest number of seniors in Florida. There are 536,607 persons over the age of 60 currently living in in our community. This number is expected to rise to 700,801 persons, or a 23% increase by 2025. As a natural consequence of aging, health and social services needs increase. Of particular concern, is that the over 80 population will increase from 112,930 now to over 140,000 in 2025 or a 20% increase. Finally, the number of seniors over the age of 60 living below 125% of poverty is 146,446 or 27% of the population, making more costly forms of community based care unavailable to this population.

It is well documented that seniors do best when they can “age in place,” in the comfort of their own homes surrounded by friends and loved ones. Florida has taken a leadership role in providing community based alternatives to institutional care that provide the necessary care and social supports for elders to stay at home. These services can be provided much more cost effectively then nursing home care. Unfortunately these programs are not being funded commensurate with the needs and as a result, there are currently 22,041 seniors waiting for these services. This results in the premature institutionalization of seniors which dramatically increases the most expensive form of long term care.

There is a network of community based social service agencies; insurance companies and home health agencies providing the complete array of services to support seniors in their own home. Funding for these services comes from many sources including Federal, State, Local Government, United Way and local community foundations. The continuing availability of these funding streams while vital to maintaining the “safety net” are unable to meet the current and future needs of our aging seniors.

A committee of concerned stakeholders led by the Alliance for Aging, United Way and various state elder advocacy organizations have been meeting to discuss potential solutions to the funding crisis we are experiencing. This conference is the beginning of a community wide effort to develop a mechanism to secure an ‘impactful’ increase of local funding to support our elders. You will hear about a number of potential opportunities that with the support of the broader Miami-Dade community, including leaders from business, government and the human services sector we can create a MOVEMENT to ensure that the financial resources to care for our elders will be available.