The way America looks today is changing rapidly. In four short years we will witness a remarkable change in US age demographics. By 2020, the number of adults aged 65 and over will outnumber those five years old and under. It’s important to be aware of the changing landscape in order to anticipate how the corresponding shift in healthcare, finances, and caregiver resources will impact you and your family.
What Changes Can You Expect?
Although this may seem normal, considering that the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 4.1% in 1900 to 13.0% in 2010 and is projected to reach 21% percent by 2050, the change in resources needs may be unprecedented. According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by 2050, one-fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 years and older. In today’s standard that would be roughly 60 million older adults. With an aging population, we can all expect to be a caregiver at some point. According to WomensHealth.gov there are more than 44 million Americans (21% of the adult population) who provide unpaid care to an older or infirmed person 18 years or older in any given year. Altogether, informal caregivers provide 80% of the long-term care in the US.
What Is the Impact of an Aging Population?
The impact of the aging population is something the world is experiencing and one that we need to be prepared for. If you charted the population by age, it used to be a pyramid with the larger proportion being younger as the base. That view has and will continue to change and become inverted if the trends continue. How can we prepare for this? To start, through education and awareness. Being informed of this shift and understanding its impact will allow you to prepare for your own future, focus on retirement savings, and help you determine how you will care for your aging loved ones.
You’ll also need to be prepared for fast changes in healthcare needs and a larger political and societal discussion about caregiving resources. The demand on the healthcare industry, government provided support (i.e. Medicare), caregiver resources, financial resources and expertise is going to expand greatly. Get engaged now and be prepared. You should start by discussing the needs and wishes with your aging loved one and your children today.