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America is getting grey

Thursday, October 05, 2017

It is old news that the fastest growing segment in American society today is the older adult. In 2014, only 15% of the population was 65 or older, but it is anticipated that this number will increase until 24% of the total population will be 65 or older by the year 2024 ( In terms of individuals rather than percentages, this represents a 100% increase within ten years. Wow!  These escalating numbers are indicative of how those in the senior living industry might prepare for larger numbers of seniors, but they should also prepare for a different type of older adult as well. RD’s October blogs will explore the differences and trends in this upcoming group of seniors as well as delve into the need to eliminate ageism in America because one out of every four individuals will be 65 or older within the next decade.

Aging US PopulationAGING TRENDS

As the diversity of the American population has exploded over the past years, the number of non-Hispanic, white older adults has also increased in number. However, the population of minority groups in Americans under 65 has increased at a more rapid rate creating a “diversity gap” between generations.

There is also a diversity or divide among those who are choosing different solutions for adapting to the aging process in terms of senior living choices. This diversity streams from two motivators:where one lives and which ethnic/socioeconomic group in which the older adult belongs. Many older adults in the rural mid-West continue to choose to age-in-place rather than move to a Life Plan Community or other senior living options. The cultures of certain ethnic groups continue to value caring for older loved ones within their family unit. Lastly, it appears that the supply of affordable housing cannot keep up with the growing number of those who are economically challenged.

Those approaching 65 years and older are also working longer. Either due to financial concerns or the desire to remain connected and challenged, older adults are remaining in the workforce after their eligibility for Social Security. In 2014, 23% of men and 15% of women were engaged in the workforce; whereas, predictions indicate that by 2022, 27% of men and 20% of women over age 65 will remain in the workforce (


No one is absolutely certain about the implications this increase of older adults will have on America. Among the areas that may be affected are: 

  • America’s economy,
  • Sustainability of Medicare and Social Security,
  • Costs of healthcare,
  • Marketing efforts in retails sales,
  • Demands on senior housing.

No matter what those implications are, the retirement industry will also be facing the cultural and social challenges to accept and integrate this aging group that will represent one-fourth of America. How can ageism be reduced in America to create a welcoming culture to those who have always lived among us but are entering a new stage of life as older Americans?

The October blogs of Retirement DYNAMICS will comment on research on Ageing in America, its effects, and our responsibility to combat negative biases against age.

See Aging Chart:


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