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United Way Report: Elderly Needs on the Rise

Fewer funds and resources for elderly and disabled people along with a growing aging population are creating problems of “epic proportion,” according to a new report from the United Way of Allegheny County.

United Way President Bob Nelkin said that with new medical advancements people are now outliving their spouses and caregivers more than before, and their needs are increasing. 

“As people become more frail and are living alone they have the need for more assistance with bathing, and dressing, and meal preparation, and getting to their doctors appointments, and other basics of life,” said Nelkin.

Nelkin said the assessment, on which the report is based, surveyed donors as to what they’d like the United Way to invest in. Many respondents answered they wanted to help seniors age in a dignified way and help caregivers.

He said social service charities will also be facing a volunteer shortage in the next few years.  

“We know that many of the volunteers themselves are now in their seventies and their mid-seventies,” said Nelkin. “They’re aging out of their volunteer roles. We have to replenish numbers of volunteers who help individuals who are frail.”

The assessment is conducted every three years with the intention of helping United Way officials shape upcoming programs and strategies. It was compiled with the help of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health and a steering committee made up of local business and community leaders.

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