Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Officials Worry about Providing Services for Elderly

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Officials Worry about Providing Services for Elderly

Article excerpt

Byline: WENDI ZONGKER

It's no secret that Nassau County's population is growing.

In 2006, 68,188 people called Nassau County home. That number is predicted to increase 56 percent to 106,885 by 2030.

What isn't as well-known is that the county's senior citizen population - those 65 and older - is expected to triple over the same period, from 9,889 in 2006 to 31,657 in 2030, according to statistics provided by Nassau County Council on Aging Executive Director Al Rizer.

In 2006, senior citizens made up 14.5 percent of Nassau's population. In 2030, they are expected to make up 29.62 percent.

In an age of shrinking budgets, those statistics concern Rizer, head of the county's only nonprofit agency that provides meals, transportation, recreation and adult day care to senior citizens.

"How are we going to be able to provide the services to them?" Rizer asked.

Rizer is using those statistics as he looks for funding to build a new Eastside Senior Center in Fernandina Beach. The current facility sits on property owned by Baptist Medical Center Nassau with a lease set to expire in 2011.

The Council on Aging recently received $500,000 from the state for a proposed 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot center, about 7,000 to 12,000 square feet larger than the current building.

Rizer estimates the new center will cost about $3.5 million.

The quest to build a new center comes as the council is dealing with a steadily rising senior population.

U.S. Census data shows 1,901 people 65 and older lived in Fernandina Beach in 2000. That number is expected to jump to 6,722 in 2010.

In two years, the county's second largest senior-citizen population is expected to be in Callahan.

The Census reported 124 senior citizens called Callahan home in 2000. That number will swell to 1,956 by 2010, according to a Baptist Nassau survey.

Another 1,670 senior citizens are expected reside in Yulee in 2010 compared to 765 in 2000, followed by 1,274 living in Hilliard in two years compared to only 339 eight years ago.

U.S. Census data isn't available for Bryceville, but Baptist Nassau statistics from Rizer predict 750 senior citizens will live there in 2010. …

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