Data released this week shows by 2030 there will be more people over 65 than under 18 in the United States. Local readers will not be surprised to learn there are 13 Ohio counties in which that has already happened — and 11 of them are right along the Ohio River.
While this may not be the way Mid-Ohio Valley counties would hope to be ahead of a national trend, it presents some opportunities to become models for communities throughout the country, who will face this challenge soon enough. Certainly, it means local officials who are already addressing the change might have some influence in the way others address it.
Jennifer Westfall, aging and disability director for the Buckeye Hills Regional Council, was sought out to discuss the matter with The Columbus Dispatch, which had questions about Noble County, where the median age is 53.1. (The median age in the rest of the nation is 38.2).
“There’s a lack of resources because it is low-population and it’s rural,” she told The Dispatch. “There is not a hospital in the county. There is no emergency facility in the county. Health care access is a struggle.”
Certainly, Westfall was correct to point out to The Dispatch that lawmakers must be careful in considering cuts to programs such as Medicaid, as the population in need of such assistance increases.
Mid-Ohio Valley counties have a lot of work to do if we are to diversify our economy and improve our schools and communities to attract and retain younger residents and families. But we should be grateful to know we live in a region where we already watch out for one another, no matter what the age.
The Marietta Times