Aging in Diverse Communities
The Baby Boomers are becoming the retirement boomers. According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the population age 65 and over numbered 49.2 million in 2016 (the most recent year for which data are available). The number of older Americans increased by 12.1 million, or 33 percent, between 2006 and 2016, compared to an increase of 5 percent for the under-65 population.
These elderly populations are diverse and living in communities of varied income levels, amenities and infrastructure. Many of the necessities that the Baby Boomers seek are easier to find in more prominent communities. However, in places that lack the dollars needed to fund independent and assisted living communities, cutting-edge medical technology, etc., the necessities are harder to come by for seniors.
This will become even more concerning over the next 40 years. The population 65 and older is expected to nearly double from 49.2 million to 98 million by 2060, according to the ACL report. Additionally, the number of those 85 and older (who are most likely to need assistance) will more than double by 2040, from about 6.4 million in 2016 to 14.6 million. About 82,000 Americans were age 100 and older in 2016, and, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that number could increase tenfold by mid-century.
Women will continue to outnumber men, with the gender gap slowing in the 65-85 age range, but growing to four-to-one at age 85 and up, according to the report from the ACL.
There is no longer an official retirement age. This is uncharted territory. The “new seniors” to come will be even more demographically diverse than the prior generation. They will be working more, have more life-changing events, and will generally be busier.
Much planning is needed for an efficient use of public funds to serve this group. This will require continued advancement of technology, better infrastructure and more amenities.