MANSFIELD -- More than a year ago Richland Source launched a project titled Healing Hope, geared toward addressing the region's dismal infant mortality rate.

That Solutions Journalism project earned us national attention, but more importantly offered a light for the community pointing out the local services available to combat a life-or-death issue.

Today we begin another Solutions Journalism project aimed at the other end of the age curve. We're calling it Gray Matters, and it's a study on those dealing with the issues involving the elderly, from financial problems to social issues to health-related concerns and even legal and individual-care topics.

Larry Phillips mug shot

Richland Source managing editor Larry Phillips

It's a broad spectrum, but a prominent subject in our community affecting not just the elderly but those who care for them and beyond. For instance, in the early stages of our reporting local businesses have shared that a growing number of employees are caring for their parents, and it can be a growing disruption in their job schedules.

The skyrocketing costs of health care have led more people to moving their parents, who need more concentrated attention, into their own homes.

It's an issue that's mushrooming and will continue to evolve.

About 20 percent of residents in Crawford County, 18 percent of those in Ashland County and 17 percent of residents in Knox County were 65 years or older in 2017, according to Census Bureau estimates. At the turn of the 20th century, there were 14 working-age adults for every person age 65 or older. By 2014, there were approximately 4 working-age people per older adult, and the ratio may drop to about 2 to 1 by 2060, the Census Bureau projects.

We understand there are a myriad of issues involved with caring for an aging population. Our goal is to help those involved in this process understand some of the services available locally to address what can be an emotional period.

Throughout the year we will be looking at a variety of topics and open to a number of your suggestions as we study how north central Ohio residents navigate this particular issue.

We look forward to learning with you about the latest trends and creative methods involved with managing an aging population. As always, we want to raise the level of conversation in the community and perhaps introduce novel ideas that can be implemented here.

This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: SpherionVisiting Nurses AssociationPR Machine WorksNanogate/Jay SystemsDRM ProductionsOhioHealth Mansfield HospitalRichland BankMechanics BankArea Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source follow this link.

This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: Spherion, Visiting Nurses Association, PR Machine Works, Nanogate/Jay Systems, DRM Productions, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, Area Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source click the "About Solutions Journalism."

I've lived in Richland Co. since 1990, married here, our children were born here. This is home. I have two books published on a passion topic, Ohio high school football. Others: Buckeyes, Cavs, Bengals, Reds, History, Disney.