The senior center in tiny Eagle Bend, Minnesota, delivered 10,000 meals last year to Todd County residents who needed them, the same number as the year before.
Verna Toenyan, who wrangles people and businesses into helping with that effort, worries that soon that won’t be enough.
That’s just one reason she got 60 or 70 people in a room for lunch in Browerville yesterday to start talking about how people in Todd County can figure out, with the help of the Initiative Foundation, how to deal with an aging population. There was a lot of gray hair in the room.
Todd County is on the front of the aging curve. About 16 percent of its 25,000 residents are over 65 and, as is true just about everywhere else in the United States, that percentage will rise in coming years.
As for the meals program, “We are dealing with the neediest of the needy,” Toenyan says.
The Initiative Foundation’s goal is to help residents come up with a strategy, and IF’s Dan Frank made two interesting points in Browerville. One is that the issues involved with an aging population aren’t simply those of health care. Recreation, the business climate, arts and culture, education and more are all part of the equation, too. And second, it’s useful to think about people who are aging (i.e. all of us) as, not simply a suck on the system, but as assets that can be brought to bear to find solutions.
In the coming weeks, MPR News will start a more organized reporting effort in Todd County to start painting the contours of the issue. I hope we can provide some insight to residents there, but I also think it will be helpful to others around the state. It’s a place we’re all going to get to someday.