People aren’t dying like they used to. Thanks to medical advances and better lifestyle choices, Americans are living a lot longer. In fact, those who are 65 or older account for 14.1 percent of the U.S. population, or about 45 million people — the highest percentage ever, according to the Administration on Aging. By 2020, seniors will account for 16.1 percent.
As the number of older Americans increases, so do their needs. Not all of those needs are being met. But the U.S. Postal Service could change that.
Budget constraints in recent years have forced many providers of elderly wellness services – anything promoting physical, emotional, or even financial health – to shutter physical locations and move online. But, according to the National Council on Aging, 41 percent of older Americans do not use the Internet at all, meaning more than 18 million seniors might be cut off from programs they need most.
With its vast network of post offices and letter carriers, isn’t the Postal Service well-positioned to partner with a wide range of wellness service providers who want to reach seniors on the other side of the digital divide?
We hosted a forum with wellness professionals and postal employee representatives who essentially explored that question and concluded that, yes, there are numerous opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborations. We provide details of the discussion in our new paper, The Postal Service's Role in Delivering Wellness Services and Supplies.
Among the possibilities:
- Delivering groceries to homebound people, including those without Internet access
- Letter carriers alerting a social services organization when a senior along their route might need help
- Wellness organizations offering services, such as helping people manage their social security accounts, through unused postal clerk windows
- Mobile health units stationed in Post Office parking lots
Each opportunity would allow wellness providers to connect with more elderly individuals, and also help the Postal Service realize new revenue through fee-sharing or rental income while fostering goodwill with individuals and communities throughout the nation.
Tell us your thoughts: What kind of wellness services would you like to see involving the Postal Service? Which of those services do you think are the most important?