On January 1, 2011, the nation’s oldest Baby Boomers began turning 65. By December 31, 2030, all living Boomers will be at least 65 years and the oldest Boomers will begin turning 85. By December 31, 2050, all living Baby Boomers will be at least 85 years old.
Why are these milestones important?
The size of the Baby Boomer generation has greatly influenced population demographics and the social and economic terrain of the United States, and as the Baby Boom generation ages, they will continue to create change.
Both the U.S. Census Bureau and Pew Research Center predict the American aging population will more than double in size by 2050. According to population growth predictions by 2050, 21% of the American population will be over the age of 65, compared to 12% in 2005.
In North Carolina, the changes in age demographics are expected to be even more drastic. Today, individuals over 65 make up roughly 14% of the North Carolina population. By 2050, 25% of the North Carolina population is expected to be over the age of 65.
What do all of these numbers mean?
An increase in the aging population will have many economic, social, and health-related implications.
Changing age demographics may account for projected changes in health-related demographics. As the human body ages, organ systems age and fail, and the body becomes more susceptible to chronic disease. The top six leading causes of death in the U.S. population over 65 are all chronic conditions. These chronic conditions take their greatest toll of the aging population, with the majority of all cases occurring in individuals over 65. These chronic conditions include: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
The prevalence of these four conditions is expected to increase within the next 36 years.
Diabetes: Today, 9.3% of the U.S. population has diabetes. By 2050, as great as 33% of the U.S. population could have diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease: Today, 37% of Americans have CVD. By 2030, 40.5 to 44% of Americans could have CVD
Alzheimer’s: Today, 11% of Americans over 65 have Alzheimer’s. By 2050, as many as 16.5% of Americans over 65 could have Alzheimer’s disease.
Cancer: Today, 60% of all cancer patients are over the age of 65. By 2050, it is expected that 73% of cancer patients will be over 65.
An increase in health care costs is expected to follow an increase in chronic disease prevalence, with the per capita health care cost increasing to $3,543 by 2050 from $2,993 in 2000.
It is important that we pay attention and prepare for these rapid changes in our nation’s age demographics, as they imply significant social, economic, and health-related changes.
Got Plans? is dedicated to helping you prepare. You can begin to prepare for the silver tsunami by planning for yourself and we can help. Life is full of planning: we plan for our college education, for marriage, and for the birth of a baby, but we often hesitate to plan for our final stage of life. Talk to your family and friends. Encourage your loved ones to consider and document their wishes. What kind of healthcare do you want and who would you want to speak for you if you could not speak for yourself? An advanced directive allows you the opportunity to consider and answer this question. Visit www.gotplans123.org to learn more about advanced care planning and to gain access to our free advanced care planning resources.