GEORGETOWN — With a significant increase in the elderly population of Sussex County expected by 2020, the need for long-term care services will also grow.
According to Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, the size of the population over age 60 began to spike dramatically around 2005 and will continue to expand steadily for the next 20 years. By 2030, Delaware is projected to have the ninth highest proportion of people over the age of 65 in the country.
Bill Love, director of DSAAPD, said the increase can be attributed to the baby boomer population and migration of retirees to the state, especially Sussex County.
“Delaware definitely needs to prepare for the growing age of the population,” he said. “The growth rate for the older population is definitely significant in Sussex County as well as statewide.”
The town of Millsboro will consider a change to its zoning to allow for assisted living facilities. The proposed amendment would allow people who don’t need the amount of care a nursing home provides the ability to stay close to home, Mayor Bob Bryan said.
“We see those needs rising,” said Town Manager Faye Lingo. “The facilities that do exist have waiting lists.”
Brandywine Assisted Living at Fenwick Island opened three years ago, just eight years after the Brandywine facility in Rehoboth Beach opened its doors. Now, the Rehoboth building is at capacity and Brandywine Fenwick is making its way there.
The Fenwick location recently expanded its dementia neighborhood from 13 rooms to 25, replacing rooms originally intended for other purposes, and it’s nearly at capacity in every program besides assisted living, despite having opened in 2008.
In the last year alone, the Fenwick facility has increased from 54 residents to 78.
“The reason for the need in our area outside of the population influx is just the fact we provide such a remarkable quality of life for people,” said Heidi McNeeley, director of community relations. “We have people here that could do perfectly fine on their own, but they don’t want to live by themselves anymore.”
People are also becoming more educated about assisted living than they were in the past, she said.
Methodist Manor House in Seaford is a Continuing Care Retirement Community, which provides independent living, assisted living and nursing home care. Michael Smith, corporate director of public relations for ACTS Retirement-Life Communities, Manor House’s parent company, said as people learn more the misperception usually changes.
Life-communities keep seniors active and interacting with others while also offering the peace of mind that medical care is available if needed.
“They provide the lifestyle the seniors want and the security that they need,” Smith said.
» Staff Writer Ethan Rothstein contributed to this report.