Diabetes, bridges and aging Minnesota

Want to find out the percent of adults with diabetes in Fillmore County (7.8%) or the rate of deficient bridges (19.8%) in the county? How does that compare to diabetes rates (7.3% in Beltrami County, or to Beltrami’s bridge (6.8% deficient)? Minnesota Compass has answers to these and dozens of other questions in areas ranging from education and housing to population and income. Compass is part of the Wilder Foundation’s research arm.

Reliable information is crucial to policy-making and decision-making. Wilder research points to significant trends, such as the aging of Minnesota’s population. From 2000-2009, the number of Minnesotans who are older than 50 grew by 28 percent. The number older than 60 increased by 21 percent, and the number older than 70 by seven percent.

In 2009, there were about five people of working age for every person who was 65 or older—by 2030, if current trends continue, there will be only three people of working age for every person older than 65.

That can be a negative, according to Wilder Research executive director Paul Mattessich, with more people needing care for chronic health conditions, and straining our health and financial support systems. But there are positive signs, too, with more people staying healthier for longer and continuing to contribute to society.

Getting the facts—whether about aging bridges or aging populations—is just the first step. The next step is preparing to meet the future, with targeted, reasonable responses. For deficient bridges, inspection and repair are clear solutions. For an aging population, we will need a more nuanced, complex set of solutions, including approaches to housing, health care, transportation and a variety of choices about employment, retirement, and participation in the community. For any of the challenges that face us, we need solid information to begin to construct solutions together.

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