In the beginning warnings about the swelling demographic of older adults usually came with the imagery of a tsunami – a silver one of course. Certain areas of the country are already older, others not as much, so some preferred to say they faced a rising tide of the needs of elders. Pick your image to go with the following statistic.
From a recent policy brief at a conference on aging:
“In the next five years, more than 18 million people will turn age 65. By 2030, 73 million, or one-in-five people in America, will be 65 or older.”
It’s pointed out that this population is living longer than ever before. Between 2020 and 2030, the number of people 85 and older will grow by 35 percent. The number of those 100 and older will grow 52 percent.
It is hard to now what we do not know. Just how dire will this be? I hope the image is not one of people falling off a cliff. Stats like this imply that the needs are multiplying and we have to step it up with solutions to meet them .
In reading articles from my aging in place goggle alert on a daily basis, I am encouraged. Even tiny communities are approaching the challenge with non profits and just good old community know how. Nonprofits and for profit companies are forming to meet specific needs to keep people where they want to age- in their homes. On an international scale there are public private incentives for building affordable co housing.
There is a mountain of investment in the silver tech. Why not, it is a huge market. The arena of making the best medical alert or tracking systems and other gadgets is very competitive – may the best one win. There are simple home assistive products that once were only available from specialty catalogs that can be bought at you local drug store.
Many communities do not have strategic plans or a budget to enact them. I am choosing for the moment to try and offer a cautioned view that the response will keep getting stronger as the needs multiply. At this point I am speaking both as an observer and a member of the ominous demographic. But back to images, if the rising tide is going to change to a raging river, we are going to need a wider safety net.