Informal survey demonstrates aging have different needs

LINCOLN In an informal survey done by the Alcona Commission on Aging, senior residents stated that communal dining at their local center was their highest priority.

Out of 60 seniors who responded to a mailed survey, 76.7 indicated the congregate meals were most important to them, Suzan Krey, executive director, said Thursday. Second was the need for homemaking services at 35 percent and third was home-delivered meals at 33.3 percent.

But a new statistic surprised her, and could be a reflection of a growing baby-boomer population.

More than 26 percent of the responders wanted more culture and art in their lives, said Krey.

“I put that in the survey almost as a second thought, and I was surprised that so many were interested in that,” she said. Some of that desire could be coming from baby boomers, who matured during the Vietnam Conflict. “The boomers are a whole different thing,” she said. “We had a voice and we’ve always had a voice.”

Alcona seniors shaped by World War II are now in their 80s and 90s and some are frail, she said.

“Conformity is a good word for that group. They want to be the same. They look to each other and volunteer a lot or have done so in their lives,” she said. So the meal programs, as well as homemaking services and home maintenance are important to them.

In contrast, boomers were born between 1946 and 1955.

“They are hippies, but their bodies are old,” she said. They are less likely to volunteer in favor of protesting. Instead of hot meals delivered to their homes, they may be more interested in activities such as parasailing on Long Lake.

When Krey presented her survey at a recent meeting of the Alcona County Commissioners, some members even joked about boomers riding a zip line across the quarry at Lafarge North America.

“It’s not enough to provide a hot meal and a place to talk. They want to use their skills,” she said.

Krey, herself, identifies with the baby boomer era. “I will be doing that zip line as long as I can. Then just throw me someplace. At that point I’m going to need services. A lot of services.”

That situation will eventually put new pressures on the county, though, because the 18 and under population has been shrinking, she said.

As for cultural activities, they have to be done right to draw a crowd, she said.

One effort has been surprisingly successful. On Wednesday afternoons, dozens of people attend two craft sessions at the Lincoln Senior Citizen Center. One is a group of wood carvers. The other is a group of knitters.

“We’ve got between 25 and 30 people, who make hats and mittens and scarves for kids and for the seniors. These ladies have a ball,” Krey said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.