The county’s “Aging by Design” program will present workshops focusing on elder abuse, dementia and housing culminating in a day-long summit on April 28.
Lee said that while some Cobb residents may not have elderly friends or family members now, the issue of an aging population in metro Atlanta and nationwide will eventually touch everyone.
“It’s folks my age who are also impacted by being caregivers,” said Lee, whose elderly father lives at home with him.
With baby boomers heading toward retirement, Lee said it’s important to “tell that story to as many people who are willing to listen.”
“By the time it gets to where it is affecting you personally, there’s so much to absorb,” Lee said.
The Atlanta Regional Commission will take part in the county’s aging series. Kathryn Lawler, manager of the ARC aging and health resources division, said the regional commission’s board passed a resolution in 2007 challenging metro Atlanta to become a place where people can live throughout their entire lives.
It’s a concept Lawler called “lifelong community.”
“People who have lived in a neighborhood for 30 or 40 years shouldn’t have to leave their neighborhood when they are wanting to downsize,” Lawler said.
And that means providing options for aging residents so they can maintain the lifestyle they built for themselves, like housing and transportation alternatives.
Commissioner Helen Goreham, of west Cobb, said the county is looking at those issues.
“We hear the predictions of what’s to come as far as those individuals who will be 55 years of age and greater as the baby boomers retired so we, as county officials, have to look at housing and transportation in a different way as we prepare for the number of seniors we will have living in our county,” Goreham said.
Communities with options will thrive economically as baby boomers enter retirement, Lawler said, but communities with few or no options will see an exodus of senior residents.
Bringing those kinds of options takes understanding where you are, Lawler said, and where you want to go.
“If you ask people what they fear about growing older, and people tend to fear one part of it, it doesn’t tend to be gray hair … the fear is isolation,” Lawler said.
People have a right to a high quality of life, Lawler said, and as the needs to seniors continue to change, regions need to be prepared.
“If you miss the boat now, that will play itself out pretty significantly over the coming years,” Lawler said.
IF YOU GO:
Cobb County will have three events in its aging series:
“Elder Abuse: Financial, Emotional and Physical Exploitation” will be at 7 p.m. March 4 in the Cobb Board of Commissioners chambers, 100 Cherokee St.
“Dementia and Alzheimer’s 101,” will be at 7 p.m. March 18 at the East Cobb Senior Center, 3332 Sandy Plains Road
“Housing Options” will be at 7 p.m. April 8 at the Senior Wellness Center, 1150 Powder Spring St.
The series will culminate in a day-long conference “Aging by Design” from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. April 28 Cobb Galleria Centre, 2 Galleria Parkway