24 Jul A Silver Tsunami is Coming
As the baby boom generation ages, this group will create a so-called silver tsunami–a term used to describe the impact of America’s graying population. The silver tsunami (also called the gray wave) should hit the United States in 2035. This is the year the U.S. Census Bureau projects the population of older adults will be greater than the number of children in the country.
In fact, in less than 20 years, people 65 and older will outnumber children under 18 at 78 million and 76.7 million, respectively. Today those 65 and over make up 15% of the country’s population. That number will increase to 32% starting in the year 2030, when all baby boomers will be 65 or older. Medical advances extending life expectancy, coupled with younger generations having fewer children will lead seniors to tip the scales in population.
The needs of this aging community will have major implications on significant aspects of our society. This includes greater demands for healthcare, senior living facilities, in-home care, senior support services, Medicare and Social Security.
Impact of the Silver Tsunami
- Increasing healthcare demands. As seniors age they typically have a number of multiple chronic conditions. This may include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, COPD, arthritis, and depression/anxiety. In addition, seniors often take multiple medications. Managing the healthcare needs of these patients will place greater demands and challenges to primary care physicians who typically cater office schedules and time per patient on a single disease or condition.
- Greater Medicare costs. The multiple medical conditions seniors have will also lead to an increase in Medicare spending. From 2020-2027, Medicare spending is projected to increase an average of 6.0% each year as more people enroll in the program (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). By the 2030, Medicare projects more than 80 million Americans will be enrolled.
- Future of Social Security. Due to a decline in the worker-to-beneficiary ratio, the Social Security trust fund is projected to run out by 2035. After that, taxes are expected to cover about 76% of benefits for the next 75 years.
- Senior living facilities. The demand for senior living facilities will be greater than ever as baby boomers can no longer live in their own homes. More independent senior housing communities, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living homes, memory care facilities, and private residential care homes will need to be built to meet the need for senior housing.
- Home health/personal care aides. The U.S. Department of Labor projects a 41% increase in the need for healthcare aides over the next decade.
- Increase in Alzheimer’s Disease. In 2018, 5.7 million Americans of all ages were living with Alzheimer’s dementia. By 2050, the total number could rise to 14 million people (Centers for Disease Control Washington). Caring for those with dementia will place a tremendous financial and emotional burden on families, as well increase Medicare costs.
Prepare for the silver tsunami by being proactive now. Follow a healthy diet, keep an eye on weight, exercise everyday, keep positive social connections, and make sure you have enough money in retirement savings. The aging process cannot be stopped. However, by taking action you can help ensure healthy aging.
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