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AARP Advocates set the stage for needed improvements for older North Carolinians

AARP North Carolina Executive Council Member Lilian Lee provides information to legislative staff during the Aging Advocacy Day.

RALEIGH -- AARP volunteers were in large numbers at the North Carolina General Assembly when the state’s aging community held an Advocacy Day here in May. With most new legislative proposals being held for the long session in 2025, aging advocates helped set the stage for opportunities lawmakers have to strengthen our communities and make North Carolina a better place for all ages.

According to advocates, much attention on our aging population is needed. North Carolina has seen a significant demographic change in the 21st century. Today, there are over 1.9 million people over the age of 65. In the next 20 years, the number of North Carolinians aged 65 and older will increase by 48% to 2.8 million people.

Executive Director of the NC Coalition on Aging Carrie Dugas said, “Although this increase in our older population has been expected, the state has done little to plan for the opportunities and challenges of an increasing number of aging adults. Older North Carolinians have a wealth of knowledge and skills that can help our communities and state as a whole continue to prosper.

Older adults are also vital to state and local economies with Social Security alone pumping nearly $37 billion dollars into the state’s economy each year,” she added.

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Chris Brandenburg provides information to help state aging advocates talk to lawmakers

AARP North Carolina Manager of State and Federal Advocacy Chris Brandenburg said, “Addressing complex issues such as how to handle the growing need for long-term services and support, workforce adequacy and support for family caregivers is imperative. That is why a state-led strategic planning resource “All Ages All Stages NC,” to be released this month, can help North Carolina transform its infrastructure and coordinate services for our rapidly aging population, as well as people with disabilities.”

During the past year, hundreds of consumers, providers, and aging and disability advocates from across North Carolina discussed the needs of older adults and persons with disabilities and developed recommendations on (1) how to make our state the best possible place to grow old while utilizing the strengths and skills of our older and disabled residents and on (2) how to address the challenges and gaps that exist to ensuring a good quality of life.

Moving forward, advocates for older adults and strong local economies will focus much attention on four areas of the All Ages All Stages NC report: Affording Aging, Strengthening Communities for a Lifetime, Optimizing Health and Well-Being, Supporting Older Adults and Their Families.

AARP North Carolina Director Mike Olender concludes, “We are the voices of those who may not have the opportunity to speak up for themselves. Our advocacy can make a significant difference in shaping policies related to healthcare, housing, financial security, and other critical issues affecting older adults in the future.”

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