Given the relatively high rate of Mississippi young adults “out migrating” in search of better economic opportunity, it may surprise to find that Mississippi is in the middle of the pack (31st out of 50 states) in regard to the percentage of the population over 65 years old.
Two factors weigh down this “average” ranking, however. First is the significant overlap between aging and poverty. While the U.S. rate of seniors living at or below 100% of the poverty line is 9.3% (so says the U.S. Census Bureau), the Mississippi rate approaches 14% – 50th out of 50, topped only by the District of Columbia, and consistent with the state’s overall condition of stubbornly persistent high poverty.
A second factor is the generally pathetic state of public services available to meet senior needs. The Area Agencies on Aging (Mississippi has 10), the primary provider of life-sustaining services authorized under the Older Americans Act and operating under the auspices of the Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging and Adult Services, are hamstrung by chronic funding shortfalls and virtually total advocacy impotence.
Indeed, who advocates for poor, vulnerable Mississippi seniors? Where are their champions?