C.O. census data shows growing elderly population

Experts say pros and cons lie ahead

C.O. population gets older

BEND, Ore. - New data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau show Central Oregon is getting older, and experts say the numbers are both good and bad for the future.

People 65 and older is the population that's seen the biggest boom in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties over the past two years.

"Central Oregon has so much to offer to an active senior that I think it's a destination spot for retirees," said Pamela Norr with Central Oregon Council on Aging. "People who may want to start a second career at that time in their lives, or third career come here."

But as seniors flock to the High Desert, many challenges arise. COCA officials say dementia and Alzheimer disease are significantly impacting the elderly in Central Oregon and nationwide. It could contribute to rising healthcare costs for everyone.

"But I think we're going to see an increased need in this complexity of healthcare and how we're going to reach those needs as they get older," Norr said.

And on the day when the latest census numbers were released, a new healthcare facility held it's grand opening in southeast Bend.

"It's just making sure that the community is educated and understands what the population needs, because we haven't seen such an influx -- and we're seeing it now," said the executive director of Mt. Bachelor Memory Care, Mallory Dacosta.

Mt. Bachelor Memory Care employees say they're excited for the new developments in elderly care, and Central Oregon was an ideal place to set up shop.

"It's so nice that we have so many businesses that are thriving for this population in town," Dacosta said. "It creates jobs and does a lot of things."

As the numbers continue to grow, officials say they expect to see more businesses, activities and options for the elderly.

"The more we vary it and the more we offer, the more people are going to be able to live in this wonderful place as long as they want to," Dacosta said.

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