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Cape Fear 2020: Senior Health

READ MORE: Cape Fear 2020: Senior Health

The population is booming all across the cape fear region. Many of those newcomers include people who come here to retire. In today's Cape Fear 2020 report, we take a closer look at how the aging population will be served in the years to come and on the future of local senior services and housing.

Harrison Lanier has been working out at the Leland Senior Center for more than a year. He's watched the small space become more and more crowded. Lanier said, "It's very apparent if you look around, we're very crowded here for the number of people that are coming. I think some additional space here would really help out."

The Leland facility is one of eight senior centers currently serving Brunswick County. The Brunswick Senior Resources Director says that's not enough to meet the demand. Russell said, "The biggest trend really is growth. We are now on our fifth year of program operation and our numbers have grown four fold."

Lanier said, "We're working it out now but it would really be a help if we could get some more room."

To make more room, the county and 'Brunswick Senior Resources Inc.' is planning on building a new senior center in Calabash and another in Supply. The centers in Leland, Shallotte and Southport will be replaced with new buildings almost three times the size. The first of those new facilities will be in Southport. It is scheduled to be complete by next year. The remaining four centers are projected to be done by 2013.

Brunswick County isn't the only area experiencing a boom in the retiree population. Directly across the river in Wilmington assisted living centers like Kempton at Brightmore are have to make changes to their facility to accommodate the growing number of seniors.

The President of the Assisted Living Management services, Cindy Stancil, says the population in the number of seniors is growing and that many seniors are moving to Wilmington from out of state to live closer to their children. Marcella DeCicci moved in the Kempton at Brightmore a little over a year ago. She said, "I had to make a choice; my kids didn't want me alone in New York. I had to make a decision to go either Wilmington or Florida.” She chose the Brightmore community in Wilmington.

Right now the Brightmore Assisted iving center serves 300 people and according to Stancil that's not enough. Stancil said, "What has created the perfect aging storm that is coming is that we have low birth rate, we've had aging of the baby boomers and then we have medical progress and breakthroughs that is ensuring us longevity."

To accommodate that growth Brightmore is building a new campus. The new building will be located in Porters Neck and will serve 300 additional seniors. Construction will start next year and will be complete by 2011.

Marcell DeCicci has a few suggestions for the new buildings. She said, "It would be nice to have a little store of our own so we could purchase little things that we need now and then -- and they can build a little theater if they're going to do that much building.”

According to the state's demographics website, in 2006 the Cape Fear Region’s population was around 385 thousand and by the year 2020 it's projected to be almost 500 thousand. According to Jim Russel, Brunswick County is the fourteenth fastest growing county in the US and with in the next five years will have a total of ten senior centers available to serve the aging population.


By: Stephanie Beecken

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