A Look at America's Aging Future
Over the next few decades Baby Boomers will transform aging in the United States, presenting both opportunities and adversities.
In 2017, the United States senior population, 65 and over, quickly rolled past the highest number ever, a historic milestone of 50 million. Looking at the aging in America digital counter, a linear interpolation of the 2015 U. S. Census population estimates, the count will not let up soon. Even earlier estimates by the Census Bureau dating back to 2005 show us crossing the 50 million threshold at the beginning of 2017. Regardless, the gray tsunami has arrived.
It's the baby boomer segment, along with the longer life expectancy, that creates the surge, and it affects each state in the nation for the next several decades. This increase will result in more Medicare beneficiaries and higher Medicare spending, while fewer citizens pay into the system. The significant shift will cause challenges that we must address.
- 75 million babies were born between 1946-1964.
- If all the seniors in the U.S. held hands; they'd wrap the world twice.
- 36,924,413 baby boomers will turn 65 over the next decade.
- The number of U.S seniors will climb from just over 50 million in 2017, to 83 million by 2050.
Expected Senior Population Growth in Cities
- Austin, TX - ↑ 8%
- Seattle, WA - ↑ 8%
- Charlotte, NC - ↑ 7%
- San Jose, CA - ↑ 7%
- Houston, TX - ↑ 5%
What the Experts Predict
The sheer number of aging baby boomers will transform our economy and our services. To get a better understanding, I asked the Aging Council at Seniorcare.com, "What industries will be affected most by the large segment, and explain how?"
"The wellness industry has a need for gyms specifically designed for boomer and seniors. And the food industry faces a big issue, food insecurity. Getting seniors to eat correctly will be both a challenge and an opportunity."
-Anthony Cirillo, CEO, TheAgingExperience.com
"Health care, home care, attendant care, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, incontinence products. Finding qualified people to provide direct service to aging seniors is going to be a problem due to low wages and poor working conditions. It is also hugely expensive to get the care one might need, which could compromise the savings that seniors have squirreled away."
-Donna Schempp, Eldercare Advocate
"Most people know the critical impact that the population will have on healthcare and the housing industry. We do not have enough affordable and accessible homes in the major cities, and developers and builders are not paying attention to the trends."
-Nikki Buckelew, Founder, and CEO, Senior Real Estate Institute
"The industries affected most include skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation, memory care, etc., the pharmaceutical industry, and the medical device industry, especially assistive medical devices."
-Betsie Sassen, Advisor, Capitol Consulting, LLC
"The suburban model of single-family homes is too much for older adults to maintain. Living in suburbia will put a great strain on them and their independence. Co-housing options is a better choice for those in need of care."
-Margo Rose, President, BodyAwareGrieving.com
"Older adults apply massive demand across all services - from mental health, practitioners and providers, drugs, therapy, etc. Consumer Packaging: Smaller, lighter and easy to open/hold containers will be important design features. And of course, transportation – better public/private transport options are needed."
-Michelle Jeong, Vice President Marketing, LAT.care
"Demand for LTSS (long-term care support and services) will increase, with attendant trickle-down effects (e.g., the rise of "silver industries" like geriatric care managers, senior relocation specialists, senior concierge services, and certified aging-in-place specialists). Baby boomers demand high-quality residential care, with an emphasis on privacy, personalization, luxury and access to integrated recreation and mental health."
-Stephen D. Foreman, (CLTC), Senior Vice President, Long-Term Care Associates, Inc.
"Technology - while many seniors have embraced it, others have not. Technology needs to adapt to those who aren't that adept and who have vision and hearing loss."
-Kaye Swain, President, SandwichINK.com
"The caregiving industry will experience significant growth as more people choose to age in their homes. It includes in-home medical care professionals & non-medical caregivers that provide aid in daily tasks. Tech companies that help seniors stay independent will grow, as more seniors & family caregivers adopt tech to give peace of mind and confidence to the senior."
-David Inns, CEO, GreatCall, Inc.
"The insurance industry will change, specifically health, life and long-term care. Insurance companies must do a better job of addressing health issues and promoting healthy living. Insurance actuaries need to do a better job calculating for longer life spans and more chronic conditions."
-Admond Fong, Co-Founder, SeniorProviders.com
"The obvious answer: Hospitals, rehabs, and doctors are overwhelmed. The senior housing industry will be challenged to add services. Home care agencies will need to find other services to deliver at an affordable cost over the traditional minimum hourly contracts."
-Caryn Isaacs, Patient Advocate, GetHealthHelp.com
"Financial advisors will see a significant number of clients selling off their stocks and bonds to pay for retirement. Apparently, the medical profession will see a shift in elder care needs. The travel industry needs an overhaul."
-Ben Mandelbaum, COO, Senior-Planning.com
"Government: Social Security remains unsustainable due to sheer numbers. We’ve long outgrown it. Healthcare: We are unprepared, and yet we continue to treat and suspend entire industries on the focus of youth and longevity. We lost quality to quantity. Marketing has fed and shaped our culture, and sadly they may prevail. Housing: again we are behind the eight ball in planning and access."
-Nancy Ruffner, CEO, NavigateNC.com
"In particular, aviation. There will be a global shortage of pilots over the next 20 years. In 2009, the FAA raised the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots from 60 to 65 to help with the decrease. Low starting salaries and rising costs of licensing has contributed to the shortage. Airline profits skyrockets."
-Scot Cheben, Co-Founder, CaregivingAnswers.com
"Aging services will be most affected by the growing number of seniors. Demand for medical care for complex cases involving multiple chronic health conditions will grow exponentially. Long-term care needs will also rise dramatically. Healthcare providers need to increase staffing and training in geriatrics. Medicare and insurance companies have to figure out how to pay for this care."
-Connie Chow, Founder, DailyCaring.com
- By Carol Marak
Carol Marak, aging advocate, syndicated columnist, and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology. Carol ages alone and shares her experiences with followers via Next Avenue, Huffington Post, and over 40 newspapers nationwide.