New Report Addresses Sussex County's Growing Senior Population - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Report Addresses Sussex County's Growing Senior Population

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Sussex County seniors hear from University of Delaware researchers. (Photo: WBOC) Sussex County seniors hear from University of Delaware researchers. (Photo: WBOC)

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- A new report from the University of Delaware reveals Sussex County's strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the area's rapidly growing senior population.

At a public meeting on Monday, University of Delaware researchers presented their findings to Sussex County's Advisory Committee on Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities at the CHEER Center in Milton. Researchers told committee members that Sussex County has a number of resources that enhance the quality of life for seniors in the county. Those resources include a large number of home-care agencies, senior centers, and a variety of housing options meant for senior citizens. But the report also highlights the county's weaknesses when it comes to their aging population, namely transportation.

"There's always things that can be done better," said Angela Kline, a doctoral public administration fellow at UD. "There's a need for transportation and planning, and that has to be at all levels of government."

Meeting attendees told WBOC they were frustrated with the county's lack of convenient public transportation.

"[It's] terrible. Just terrible," said Joanne Pharaoh of Lewes. "I mean, I don't even go to Rehoboth anymore because of the traffic and I wouldn't even know how to approach a public bus to get there."

The UD report lists a number of existing transportation services in the county that are assets to the senior community. Those services include the DART Flex Service, buses operated by groups like Easter Seals and CHEER, companies like Uber and Lyft, and the non-profit membership-based organization ITNSouthernDelaware. But Committee Chairperson Ruth Ann Beideman stressed that some of these options may be too expensive to lower income Sussex County senior citizens, although they need the service just as much as wealthier residents.

"We have to always think about the low income people who need transportation but do not have funds to pay," she said. "Because they still have to get to the grocery store, the doctors office, all of those things."

According to the report, the need for affordable and convenient transportation will become even more important as the senior citizen population in Sussex County grows rapidly and as they age, fewer are able to drive themselves. The report says that Sussex County's number of residents aged 65 years or older will nearly double by 2030. The 85 years or older population will triple.

The UD researchers and Beideman said Monday's meeting was the first step towards finding new and better modes of transportation for Sussex County seniors. The UD report also suggests that subsidizing transportation could provide even more options.

Beideman will present the committee's findings from the meeting to the Sussex County Council on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

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