Nov 102011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Baby boomers are getting older, and the quality of their retirement in Fort Collins is being partially determined by the unlikeliest of local residents.

In an event arranged by CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation (CPD), approximately 25 of the organization’s student employees helped facilitate a 170-person community discussion on the issue of retirement within the city. Small focus groups touched on issues such as affordable health care, transportation and housing for senior citizens on Thursday.

“It’s just nice to represent the student population in a positive light,” said Meghan Carpenter, a CSU senior political science major who helped lead a discussion group. “I think a lot of times students get a negative connotation associated with them.”

Plans for the event started when the Fort Collins Senior Advisory Board, a city commission, and the Fort Collins Senior Center approached the CPD about conducting a local conversation based on issues facing the area’s retiring population.

The CPD will prepare the information it gathered from Thursday and turn it into community programs in the spring of 2012.

The series of events come as the city’s baby boom generation, a large group of Americans who were born between 1946 and 1957 and are around 63 years old today, is beginning to consider retirement.

Nationwide, government officials are wondering how social services will be able to support its aging citizens whose needs and wants are different from previous generation of retired persons.

“In lots of ways, they’re much more active,” said Martin Carcasson, founder and director of the CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation, adding that today’s baby boomers live longer, healthier lives.

Supporting a growing senior population has special implications for Fort Collins, which Charles Schwab Investment Services named one of the top 10 places to retire in the nation in the spring of 2011.

“The way we’re framing this is how we’re going to maintain that or make it better given that we have an aging population,” said Maggie Dennis, owner of StoryForge, a group consulting the Fort Collins Senior Center on an upcoming addition to their facility.

But that conversation can’t happen effectively, Dennis said, unless all community members participate. Affordable health care, transportation and housing are issues that effect everyone.

“I think we’re trying to open up those discussions and make it intergenerational,” she said.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com

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