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Posted on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 : 6 p.m.

Are Michigan communities ready for an aging population? Conference in Ann Arbor raises questions

By Ryan J. Stanton

A statewide conference being held Feb. 28 in Ann Arbor will explore the questions surrounding whether Michigan is ready to meet the needs of a rapidly aging population.

Are city planners and public officials prepared for a demographic revolution? What will be the consequences if they fail to plan?

AARP Michigan says communities need to start planning now, as the growing number of people age 65 and older is demanding change in the way we look at our environment — from how we spend our time, to the homes we live in, to how we travel and provide health care and social services.

Mark Hornbeck, a spokesman for AARP Michigan, said Ann Arbor was chosen for the Age-Friendly Communities Conference partly because it's seen as a progressive, age-friendly community.


SEMCOG 2040 Forecast

In 2008, AARP Magazine named Ann Arbor the No. 1 healthiest city in which to live and retire — one of many age-friendly honors the city has received over the years.

In 2012, the Milken Institute ranked Ann Arbor No. 7 among small metro areas across the nation on its "Best Cities for Successful Aging" list.

The conference will be held at the University of Michigan Palmer Commons, 100 E. Washtenaw Ave., from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The day-long event will feature experts on aging, housing, transportation, demographics, economics, health care and community planning and design.

Local mayors, city managers, city planners, public health officials, policy makers and others from across the state are expected to attend the summit, which is open to the general public.

Attendees will hear from officials in cities throughout the country that have started planning for an aging population.

Tony Derezinski and Kirk Westphal, two of Ann Arbor's city planning commissioners, took a lead role in helping to organize the symposium.

"The public as a whole is definitely invited, but the focus is on people who are going to be making some decisions," Derezinski said. "It starts off with a big heavy dose of statistics on aging."

The share of the U.S. population age 65 and older is projected to increase from 13 percent in 2010 to 19.6 percent in 2040. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments predicts in its 2040 forecast the 65-and-over population will grow even more dramatically in Southeast Michigan.


Ann Arbor Planning Commissioner Tony Derezinski reached out to AARP to help get a conference on aging in Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

In Ann Arbor, the 65-and-over share of the population is projected to grow from 9.3 percent to 22.6 percent from 2010 to 2040. And throughout Washtenaw County, from 10.1 percent to 23 percent.

In raw numbers, a total of 88,797 residents 65 and older are expected to be living in Washtenaw County by 2040 — up 53,846 from 2010. That's a 154 percent increase.

About 28,036 people 65 and older are expected to call Ann Arbor home by 2040 —up 17,424 from 2010. That's a 164 percent increase.

Derezinski said those are pretty substantial increases, and they carry implications with regard to transportation, housing and health care.

He said Ann Arbor community leaders will be looking to learn from the conference as well as show attendees from other cities what Ann Arbor is doing to be age-friendly.

"We've done a lot here and yet there's more to do," he said.

A $30 registration fee includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Registration is being handled online at until Feb. 21. Anyone having problems with registration is asked to contact Andrea Palmer at

Conference partners include AARP Michigan, the city of Ann Arbor, American Planning Association Michigan Chapter, Michigan Municipal League, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, University of Michigan, Office of Services to the Aging and Michigan State Housing Development Authority.


In 2012, the Milken Institute ranked Ann Arbor No. 7 among small metro areas across the nation on its "Best Cities for Successful Aging" list. Here's what it had to say.

Milken Institute

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

That should be "first paragraph's term" (apostrophe misplaced). Now I'm even more verclempt.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

I'm a little verclempt at the first-paragraph term's "rapidly aging population", when I am doing my darndest to age slowly, or at least reasonably. Guess I would have written "an aging population which is growing rapidly."


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:57 a.m.

While Ann Arbor has a lot to offer, it is over-hyped. The over 65 population who don't have family ties will, or are already moving to warmer climes, how do you spell no income tax states. Michigan is a beautiful state but I supsect when one retires, unless they are avid ski or winter enthusiasts they'd prefer not to hibernate for 6 months a year. As far as education goes, the latest rage is attending college online for free. Not for a degree but just to satsify the intellectual curiosity. The cynical side of me wonders how much Ann Arbor forked over to get these good ratings.

Fresh Start

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

1) College enrollment is high = last I looked 65 is the age of retirement not for going to college 2) Highest rates of public ridership = Hello!? Have you ridden on the AATA buses? Based on my observations there is a dearth of riders 65 and older. 3) Young people do not provide resources to seniors, it is the other way around. Young people are either dependent or have children that are dependent on others. Seniors are empty nesters and pay property tax to schools when they have no children. This article seems like pure propaganda


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

Believe or not a recent survey indicated only 9% of babyboomers can afford to retire at 65, many will work as long as the physically can, they've either lost money in 401Ks or just didn't save, this goes for college grads and non. It'll only get worse now that many companies have opted out of pension funds and 401Ks. You can forget about SS if you're under 45 because we won't have any.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:05 a.m.

Are they ready, Nope. Once you quit working, they really have no need for U


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:13 a.m.

Keep drinkin the Kool Aid, Man

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about growing old/retiring in Ann Arbor back in December. You can read it here: Headline: "A Town Packed With Classrooms: With a host of top learning programs, Ann Arbor, Mich., is a magnet for the 50-plus crowd" Here's the longer URL: It actually gets a bit granular, even discussing the amount of property taxes residents pay here and the November defeat of the library and public art millages. Council Member Jane Lumm is quoted saying her colleagues on council tend to show less fiscal restraint when it comes to the "more sexy, discretionary initiatives" but are reluctant to approve spending for basic city services.

An Arborigine

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

Oh yeah, AA is so ready provided you can ride your bike to the gerontologist or walk a half mile to the bus stop and wait a half hour for a ride. Auto is an option if you can afford one and to stop every half block at a crosswalk in case some pedestrian is pondering a crossing, yeah we're ready!

Michigan Man

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

Obama death panels will put a major dent in the older adult population in A2 in the near future - no need to worry - the herd will be thinned by Obamacare.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

michigan man? I could not agree more with this statement.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:30 a.m.

@Paul: Guess what Paul, there never has been anyone without up at an ER, you will get treatment (and we who have insurance will pay for it). @sh1 - jealous? betcha she would like to compare her income statement to yours....failure, huh?


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 2:48 a.m.

@sh1- You are so wrong. I read the pertinent part of the "Affordable (for whom?) Care Act, and there are in fact committees to decide who will get care, surgery, etc. So, in, effect, "death panels".


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

The "death panel" assertion made by Sarah Palin has gone the way of her career.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

What do the uninsured have right now ?? U don;t even make it to old age if you are unhealthy and with no insurance


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

I suspect they may find a dearth of moderately priced condos, detached condos, and other assisted living facilities.