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Oklahoma Human Services survey seeks input of seniors to improve support as state population ages

Matthias Zomer

Oklahoma seniors are expected to outnumber children in the next ten years. Oklahoma Human Services (OHS) is creating a plan to prepare for this shift, and it’s seeking the perspectives of the state’s seniors in a survey due on Friday.

It addresses topics like transportation, retirement and health care to understand what Oklahomans need as they age. OHS’ Director of Community Living, Aging and Protective Services Jeromy Buchanan said the Department identified these trends through separate outreach. The current survey asks questions about what strategies could help meet some of those needs.

“We currently are asking for Oklahomans to provide input on this, really drilling down a little bit more into those things to get their ideas on what we need to do to address the right plans for Oklahoma. … What would they like to see?” Buchanan said.

A report from OHS on the state of aging in Oklahoma identified needs in affordability, the availability of nursing facilities and health care providers. The results of this report and the survey will be incorporated into OHS’ Multisector Plan on Aging, which engages public and private organizations statewide to prepare for a larger population of seniors.

“We're looking at how can we create a plan that really helps people live life on their own terms, and then if they do need services, how can we do that the best way for Oklahomans and use taxpayer dollars wisely to make sure those resources are getting outcomes,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said an example of this would be supporting seniors in living independently longer. A 2022 report from the United Health Foundation found that 28% percent of Oklahomans in long-term care facilities and nursing homes had low enough needs to be served at home or in the community.

“Hopefully some of the strategies and plans will come out of this and help us align those resources to better meet the need,” Buchanan said.

As of Monday, Buchanan said around 3,000 Oklahomans responded to the survey. He said OHS hopes to get more input as the deadline for the survey approaches.

Oklahomans can access the survey on OHS’ website.

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Jillian Taylor