2020 Census: The challenge of counting seniors

Opinion: Letters to the editor

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Riverside census participation has reached almost 79 percent, surpassing the village's 2010 rate. However, with a goal of 100-percent participation, we still have work to do.

Without a complete count, our community risks loss of funding for roadways, schools, healthcare, fire stations, hospitals and programs older Americans rely on, such as Medicare Part B.

An accurate count of Riverside seniors will ensure programs they may rely upon are fairly funded. Funding for Medicaid, Older American Act title grants, supportive housing for the elderly, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and many other programs is determined by census results.

Because seniors historically have been considered a civically engaged population, they have not been categorized as difficult to count. However, the 2020 Census relies heavily on online participation, creating a barrier for seniors who may not be regular users of technology.

To adjust, paper responses and a phone method have been added as options for census participation. Though, many older adults ignore phone calls from unrecognized numbers to avoid the proliferation of phone scams aimed at them.

As a result of these challenges, the bulk of census outreach work must be done by the trusted messengers of our village. In Riverside, these include church leaders, senior companions, meal delivery services, transit agencies, health care professionals, and businesses or organizations that market to older adults.

Family members, friends and neighbors also can help by encouraging seniors to participate.

Cristin Evans, trustee

Village of Riverside

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