Baby boomers are booming, according to U.S. Census data, and a citizen coalition boosted by efforts from University of Wyoming researchers wants Laramie residents’ opinions about what is lacking in the city for seniors.
Meetings to collect input begin this week.
Laramie’s 50-59 age group is growing three times faster than the general population, said Bernard Steinman, a faculty member in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and research director at the Wyoming Center on Aging (WyCOA) at UW.
The Age-Friendly Initiative wants to create a future Laramie that meets the needs of the burgeoning older population.
“I’ve never told anybody about this and not have them be enthusiastic about it,” he said. “It really gets a good response.”
Laramie Mayor Andi Summerville signed a proclamation last week supporting efforts by the group to encourage and develop paths toward a city that provides for a healthy and fulfilling senior population.
The group will collect resident opinions during its first meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at the Feeding Laramie Valley Building, 968 N. 9th St. Other meetings will follow in May, said Steinman.
“The visioning meetings are going to be very important,” said Steinman. “We want to get the voice of residents, the people who are experiencing these issues now, to find out what their priorities are.”
Group members include representatives from the WyCOA Center, Eppson Center for Seniors and Foster Grandparents of the Rockies. The effort is through AARP’s Age-Friendly Community Network.
The growing older population is a national phenomenon and also true in Laramie, said Steinman.
2010 Census data shows a general population growth of 13.3 percent for Laramie, but the 50-59 population increased at 33.3 percent, and the age 60 and over at more than 20 percent. Newer data is not yet available. Figures for each category have shifted by now, said Steinman, meaning the age 60-plus is probably now showing the 33-percent growth.
‘We really do need to start preparing the environment so people can stay in Laramie and not have to move,” he said.
Steinman, an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and gerontologist by training, helped with a similar initiative in Boston before moving to Laramie.