Looking Towards The Future

January 24, 2012

One of our priorities here at MPTF is pinpointing what services the industry needs from us today, and anticipating what health and social services will be needed by our members in the future.

Assuming that the demographics of the entertainment community for the most part reflect the demographics of the larger population, a recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services titled, “90+ in the United States: 2006-2008,” provides some good demographic guidance to what we can expect and what the aging population of the entertainment industry will need.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The 90+ population will continue to grow both in absolute size and proportion of the older population.  For example, the 720,000 people aged 90 and over in 1980 almost tripled to 1.9 million in 2010.  Between 2010 and 2050, that same 90+ population is projected to quadruple!  By 2050, two percent of the total population of the US is expected to be 90+.  This is obviously being propelled by the baby boomer generation.
  • California leads the nation today with over 186,000 residents aged 90 and over.
  • Social Security represents almost half of total personal income for the 90+ and the poverty rate for 90+ is higher than that for aged 65-89.   In 2006-2008, 14.5 percent of the people aged 90 and over lived in poverty.  Of this group, 81.2 percent were women, disproportionately higher than their share of the 90+ population.  The 90+ population is poorer than the rest of the older population.  This is only speculation, but it seems fair to assume that many of them have outlived their retirement savings.  Let this be a lesson to all of us!
  • Difficulty doing errands alone and mobility-related limitations are the two most common types of disability for the 90+.  The survey asked several questions about disabilities, including difficulties in hearing; seeing; concentrating or remembering, or making decisions; walking or climbing stairs; dressing or bathing; and doing errands alone.   Almost two-thirds of the group reported difficulty doing errands alone, which represents an instrumental activity of daily living.  Rates of disability are substantially higher for those in the 90+ population living in an institutional setting (nursing home) than independently.

While none of this may be surprising, taken together it begins to shape a picture of what we will be looking at as an industry over the next 40 years.  We will have large and growing number of community members who are older and more frail and struggling  financially, physically, and very likely socially. From recent focus groups we conducted with 31 individuals currently on the inactive list for residential housing on the MPTF campus, we know that they will be just one accident/incident away from enjoying their independent lifestyle to needing some assistance from the MPTF or some other source.

In the long run, this represents a potentially significant strain on the MPTF’s resources; in the short run, it demands that we do everything in our power today to keep our aging industry population physically, mentally, and financially healthy to prolong an independent lifestyle for as long as possible.  From our health centers to the new health and wellness programs we are developing for working industry members; from Elder Connection and the lifelong learning programs we are making available to our industry retirees to Health Wheels traveling to “naturally occurring retirement communities” (NORCs) to bring care to where our retirees live; from Home Safe Home, our home modification program to accommodate “senior” issues, to our Palliative Care program shepherding industry members of all ages through serious and often life-threatening conditions,  MPTF and its skilled workers are reaching out to industry members in the community to support them through the aging process and all that goes with it.  We will need your support as both volunteers and donors to be successful.

In light of all of the above, today MPTF announced that it will once again open its doors to new admissions to its long-term care unit.  The Board has committed to a 40-bed unit and we will start filling 10 beds or so immediately.  While we will never be able to satisfy all of the requirements of our industry members for long-term care beds, this is a fresh start for MPTF in accommodating some of the most needy with high quality care on the Wasserman Campus.  Along with several other announcements we hope to make in the next few months, MPTF is working hard to provide a broad range of health care services to the entertainment community, sometimes working alone and in other cases with world-class partners.


About Bob Beitcher

Bob Beitcher is the President and CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. He has been a senior executive in the entertainment industry for 30 years, having held leadership roles at Jim Henson Productions, Paramount Pictures, Panavision and MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group. Bob has been an MPTF board member since 2007. He became interim CEO in 2010 and was named permanent CEO in 2011.

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