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The New Aging

The need for home care services is rising and only becoming more critical. When we look at some of the following statistics from the Population Reference Bureau we can see why. “The current growth of the population ages 65 and older —those born between 1946 and 1964—is unprecedented in U.S. history.

Demographic Shifts

  • The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to increase from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050 (a 47% increase)
  • U.S population is older today than it has ever been. Between 1980 and 2022, the median age of the population increased from 30.0 to 38.9.
  • The older population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Between 2022 and 2050 the older population that identifies as non-Hispanic white is projected to drop from 75% to 60%.

Positive Developments

  • Education levels are increasing. Among people ages 65 and older in 1965, only 5% had completed four years of college or more. By 2023, it had risen to 33%.
  • Older adults are working longer. By 2022, 24% of men and about 15% of women ages 65 and older were in the labor force.
  • The poverty rate for Americans ages 65 and older has dropped sharply during the past 50 years, from nearly 30% in 1966 to 10% today.
  • More older adults can meet their daily care needs. Older adults are functioning better on their own, and a shrinking share are living in nursing homes and assisted living settings than a decade ago. Home modifications and assistive devices such as walkers have helped older Americans maintain their independence. ( I am adding here that good home care services can make a huge difference between staying at home and needing to move to a facility.)

Challenges

  • Gains in life expectancy recently stalled. U.S. life expectancy at birth declined by 2.4 years between 2019 and 2021.11 The drop in life expectancy was driven largely by the COVID-19 pandemic, but deaths from drug overdoses, heart disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and suicide also played a role.
  • Obesity prevalence among older Americans has increased at an alarming rate. In a single generation—between 1988-1994 and 2015-2018— adults ages 65 and older with obesity nearly doubled, increasing from 22% to 40%.
  • Wide economic disparities are found across different population subgroups. Among adults ages 65 and older, 17% and 18% of those identifying as Latino and African American, respectively, lived in poverty in 2022—more than twice the rate of those who identified as non-Hispanic white (8%).
  • More older adults are divorced. The share of divorced women ages 65 and older increased from 3% in 1980 to 15% in 2023, and for men from 4% to 12%.
  • More older women are living alone. Over one-fourth (27%) of women ages 65 to 74 lived alone in 2023. This share jumped to 39% among women ages 75 to 84, and to 50% among women ages 85 and older.
  • Older Americans face a caregiving gap, especially those with lower incomes and dementia. Demand for elder care is expected to increase sharply with a rise in the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, which could more than double by 2050 to 13 million, from 6 million today.
  • Social Security and Medicare expenditures will increase.
  • Federal budget cuts and tax increases may be inevitable as more members of the large baby boom cohort reach retirement age and become eligible for entitlement programs.