Exploring Delaware: Active Adults
Delaware may be a small state, but its cultural offerings and attractive communities make a very large impression. Long thought of us as little more than a place travelers pass through on their way to New York or Washington, D.C., Delaware is in actuality a unique and exciting destination all its own.
Adjoining Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, Delaware is divided into three counties-New Castle, Kent, and Sussex. These counties encompass the beautiful Brandywine Valley, the Eastern Shore, and the greater Wilmington metropolitan region.
The Brandywine Valley offers world class museums and attractions, all which can be found alongside scenic country roads. An increasingly popular vacation destination, the Valley offers accommodations ranging from small inns to majestic former estates that have been converted to Bed & Breakfasts. Steeped in the history and splendor of the Dupont family’s success, the area offers countless attractions.
If sandy shores and ocean breezes are more to your liking, the Eastern Shore is only a short drive away. Attractions include the ever popular Rehoboth Beach as well as more quaint destinations, including countless small towns filled with historic sites and beautiful views.
Wilmington is growing rapidly-and so are its amenities. Of Delaware’s 783,600 residents, 80% live in New Castle County, many in the greater Wilmington area. Ideally located, Wilmington is halfway between New York City and Washington, D.C. It is only 30 minutes from Philadelphia and 70 minutes from Baltimore. The beautiful eastern shore is under two hours away and the attractions of the Brandywine Valley are literally in Wilmington’s backyard. Wilmington offers easy access to the Philadelphia International Airport and is home to the ninth-busiest railroad station in the country.
In downtown Wilmington, the Christina Riverfront area is undergoing a massive revitalization and offers water taxi rides and strolls along the landscaped Riverwalk. The Riverfront Market and Shipyard Shops offer a variety of fresh vegetables, flowers, and dining choices, as well as wonderful outlet stores.
Even away from the waterfront, there is plenty to do in Wilmington. Festivals and fairs, exploring the cuisines and musical heritages of a variety of cultures, occur year round. Historic districts abound and the nearest park is always around the corner. The Baltimore Sun sums up the Wilmington experience nicely: “Wilmington is undergoing a robust renaissance that makes it a prime destination. It’s got a waterfront that’s becoming sleek and hip a restaurant scene that’s off the charts and a thriving cultural arts community.”
With so many exciting places in such a small area, Delaware is becoming increasingly popular for individuals looking to relocate. One of the chief advantages of the smallest state is its beneficial tax structure. Delaware has no sales or personal property tax. Beyond tax savings, Delaware also offers a much lower cost of living.
Combined, these factors have lead to a boom in Delaware’s senior population. According to Beth Miller of The News Journal, “Census Bureau figures. . . show that Delaware is No. 5 in the nation when it comes to drawing residents 65 and older.” Delaware’s Department of Transportation is planning for this influx of seniors to increase; they report that the state’s elderly population is expected to grow by 74.7% in the next 25 years.
For Retirees, this boost in their numbers makes Delaware even more appealing. The population surge has also led to growth in the senior-serving industry; this means that seniors have more choices and better options for a variety of services.
However, Delaware’s retirees are not spending their time worrying about their future care; they are too busy spending the money they used to pay in taxes-at outlet malls, during weekend beach trips, and in interesting museums and wonderful restaurants. No longer just a thoroughfare, Delaware has become a haven.
State and Local Resources for Senior Delawareans
Advisory Council for the Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities, Sussex County
Offers support, assistance, and advice on significant programs for the aging in the State of Delaware and Sussex County in particular. The Council serves as an advocate for older adults and handicapped individuals in order to increase dialogue on the needs and concerns of this population.
This new program to assist caregivers is provided by the Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Services for Aging. Caregivers are family members or friends who provide care for an elderly loved one. This program is funded by the Older Americans Act through the National Family Caregiver Support Program and is administered by the U. S. Administration on Aging. Assistance for caregivers includes needs assessment and care planning, organization of support groups and caregiver training, respite care, and community-based caregiver resource centers.
Community Legal Aid Society, Inc.
A private, non-profit law firm dedicated to equal justice for all. The firm provides civil legal services to assist clients in becoming self- sufficient and meeting basic needs with dignity. The Elder Law Program provides legal assistance to any Delawarean age 60 or over; there are no financial eligibility requirements for the program. The Elder Law Program address issues such as Powers of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directives, consumer problems, housing problems, and benefit issues with Medicaid and Social Security. A free publication, Legal Handbook for Older Delawareans, is available on the website.
Delaware Energy Assistance Program
Service of Catholic Charities that assists low income households with their energy costs. Program will pay a portion of heating and cooling costs for eligible individuals. Benefits are paid to vendors of heating and cooling sources, including electricity, gas, oil, kerosene, wood, and coal. Program participants must meet federal eligibility standards. Assistance is available for both renters and homeowners, and elderly or handicapped persons may be eligible to apply for service through the mail.
Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Services for Aging
Statewide program with county offices that provide Adult Day Care, Assisted Living, Alzheimer’s Care, Senior Center Programs, and a variety of other services for seniors and their families. Adult Foster Care and Assisted Living are available for individuals who no longer wish to remain in their own homes or who need additional assistance. Legal Assistance, transportation, and helpful publications can also be obtained through the program.
Joint program that helps bring assistive technology to farmers who are no longer able to perform necessary work on their farms because of an illness or disability. Technological adaptations to equipment and surroundings can help individuals to keep farming and remain independent.
Easter Seals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for more than 80 years. Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals, including a variety of programs designed specifically for seniors.
Meals on Wheels, Delaware
A non-profit umbrella organization whose members provide meals to individuals 60 and over. Meals are delivered to seniors in their homes, allowing them to remain independent. Hot meals are delivered during lunch time Monday thru Friday. Meals are approved by registered dieticians and prepared fresh at kitchen sites throughout the state.
New Castle County Community Services, Department of Senior Services
The Department has two components: Senior Nutrition Program and Senior Healthcare Transportation. The senior nutrition program offers hot, nutritious meals Monday – Friday at 13 different sites located throughout the County. Participants can enjoy lunch and take a boxed breakfast and/or dinner home. WHEELS, the departments’ transportation program, provides hundreds of county residents with rides to and from their medical appointments.
Reassurance CONTACT Program
Provided by CONTACT Delaware. This service offers daily telephone reassurance and caring human interaction to the lonely and disenfranchised elderly and/or homebound population. The mission of CONTACT Delaware is to provide the highest quality telephone counseling, crisis intervention, information and referral, education and prevention services for persons in crisis and for persons in need of listening services. Services are provided by professionally trained and supervised volunteers who respond anonymously and confidentially to human needs 24- hours a day.
University of Delaware, Academy of Lifelong Learning
The Academy of Lifelong Learning is a membership organization that provides opportunities for adults 50 and over to learn, teach, and travel with their peers. The only requirements for admission are interest in a continuing educational experience, support of the programs through participation, and a modest membership fee. Membership for the semester is $170, which covers up to five classes and many activities. Courses meet on weekdays and are available on the main campus in Wilmington and in Southern Delaware at the Lewes campus.