JP senior population declines

March 2, 2012
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If you have trouble finding a gray-haired person for advice, that might be because Jamaica Plain’s senior population dipped nearly 12 percent the past decade. From 2000 to 2010, the number of JP residents 65 years or older dropped by 535, according to U.S. Census data.

“That does not surprise me at all,” said Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos, a Jamaica Plain-based senior care organization. “We have known that the number of elderly in JP has been declining for a while. I hope it is a matter of concern for the community and community leaders.”

He added, “It is becoming less and less diverse in terms of age.”

The youth population (17 or younger) also fell during that same period. The plunge totaled 1,170, nearly a 16 percent drop, as reported previously by the Gazette.

JP in 2000 had 4,542 residents in the 65-or-older age bracket, according to information provided by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, but entered the next decade with only 4,007. As a percentage of JP’s population, seniors fell about 1 percent—from about 12 percent to nearly 11 percent.

The population as a whole also declined in JP, falling from 38,176 to 37,468, during that same period. But while JP’s overall population dropped nearly 2 percent, the adult population rose about 1.5 percent. It appears JP’s population is coalescing around young and middle-aged adults.

Mitchell said JP does very little to support older people. He noted in West Roxbury there is a successful Ethos program that helps the elderly shovel snow and exercise.

City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents JP, contends the declining senior population is part of broader shift throughout the country.

“We should always be providing services from cradle to grave for every one,” he said. “But the population shift to younger people, we are seeing in many cities. We provide services for the elderly and we will continue to do so.”