Can You Afford to Grow Old in Whatcom County?


With the aging of the baby boomers, the “silver tsunami” is about to arrive. Public policy changes related to Social Security and Medicare are being considered. More and more of us in the boomer generation, as well as other generations, are worried about whether our money will last as long as we do! We wonder about whether we can leave something to our children, and we hope to avoid being a burden to them in our later years. And some of us are worrying today about having enough to simply meet our daily basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and health care. But what does it actually take to cover the cost of a reasonable quality of life as we age? The poverty level is no longer a good measure of what it takes to survive. New data provides information about what it takes for elders to meet their basic needs in Whatcom County and in other counties in Washington State. Find out about the new Elder Economic Security Index, how the Whatcom elder population stacks up, and what it takes to meet basic needs in our county and State.

Our presenters bring a wealth of experience and insight to this topic.

RaChelle (Shelly) Zylstra, PhD, currently serves as the Director of Planning at the Northwest Regional Council/Area Agency on Aging, where she provides oversight to the development and monitoring of homecare and senior services in Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties. Shelly has over 25 years of experience at the community level with older adults and people with disabilities in helping them remain in the homes and communities they love. She also works with family caregivers and has a special passion for working with elders in tribal communities.

Cathy Knight, PhD, is the State Director for the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging (W4A). Cathy serves as the Project Coordinator for the Washington State Elder Economic Security Initiative. She earned a Ph.D. in Behavioral Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has over 30 years of experience in the fields of aging and disabilities. Prior to moving to Washington, Cathy served as a researcher and instructor in university settings as well as in state and local government agencies and consumer-based advocacy organizations in Ohio and Wisconsin.