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Oxford stays young in aging state

By Amelia Wester
On April 2, 2012

Ohio as a whole may be aging, but Oxford is staying young thanks to Miami University, according to Dr. Shahla Mehdizadeh, senior research scholar at Scripps Gerontology Center. In contrast to other Ohio communities, the population 65 and older in Oxford is around 11.7 percent while it can be as high as 17 or 18 percent in other communities.

Despite this younger demographic trend, there is a side some people may not be aware of. Underneath the façade of young students lies an aging population of baby boomers.

Locally, the Knolls of Oxford Retirement Home has seen a shift in ages according to Stacey Brekke, communications director for the Knolls.

The average age of residents entering the Knolls used to be 75, but now it is around 70, Brekke said. This shift closely corresponds to the baby boomers and the culture in which they grew up.

"Baby boomers are used to taking care of themselves," Brekke said. "A lot move out so that their children won't have to [take care of them]."

According to Alan Kyger, Oxford economic development director, much of the increase in the senior population in Oxford is due to the establishment of the Knolls, which did not exist 15 years ago. Kyger also attributes the increase in baby boomers to Miami University. Kyger said he believes the university, "has been a benefit to older citizens who want to benefit by energy provided by Miami."

Despite the presence of an older demographic, Kyger said there are no businesses in Oxford that cater specifically to the elderly.

According to Miami first-year Loren Wilson, her gerontology class, "glossed over Oxford specifically except for ways to get involved."

She said students were not required to memorize specific data regarding Oxford; rather they were encouraged to get involved in the community.

Wilson said the class focused on how to assimilate older people into society and better serve them.

On a statewide scale, Mehdizadeh said many counties have seen an increase in the 65 and over age group because young people are leaving to find jobs. She said this increase in the percentage of elderly people in relation to the total population makes it seem like an "older" place.

In order to remedy young individuals leaving, Butler County has tried to attract employers to the area with the hope that these jobs will attract young people.

"The county has tried to bring employers to the area to create jobs for people who have lost their jobs," Mehdizadeh said. "This would attract young people and employers so that the entire population doesn't live on retirement benefits."

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