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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Assisted Living and Preparing for the "Silver Tsunami" – Greensboro, NC

- Monday, April 13, 2015

We’ve all heard or seen the statistic—in the United States, more than 10,000 baby boomers will be turning 65 every day for the next 20 years, resulting in a “silver tsunami” that will affect everything from television advertising to senior living design.

Historically, the elderly have comprised about three to four percent of the total population.  Today, that figure is about 15 percent in the developed world. By 2050, that number is projected to rise to 25 percent with some countries reaching an astounding 35–40 percent. Over the next 40 years, the global population over 60 years old will more than double, from 760 million to a staggering two billion people. And, for the first time ever, the number of individuals over 60 years of age will outnumber those under 15 years old. In that same time period, the number of individuals over 80 years old will go from 110 million (1.6 percent of the total population) to 400 million (four percent of the total population).

As you can imagine, the cost of aging also is rising.  By 2040, here’s what the benefits for the elderly will cost as a percentage of gross domestic product in the United States - 16.3 percent.

Countries have responded by implementing changes to help address the economic impact of aging. The current effort in the U.S. is to enact healthcare reform. These and other efforts remain critical given the diminishing number of productive workers with respect to the number of elderly.  In 1950, there were 12 workers per elderly person; today there are nine workers for every elderly person. By 2050, that ratio will drop dramatically to four workers per elderly person.

All of this statistical data points to a growing need for senior living services. However, we also see, read and hear the call for aging in place and more specifically, aging at home. Home healthcare, home care services and the PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) program are examples of services which meet the need that baby boomers have expressed to allow them to age at home, whether that home is their family home or in an assisted living residence. The desire to age in place is a universal one that traverses all cultural and geographic boundaries.

But we also know that despite our increased life expectancy, we can expect that our senior population will need senior living services, including assisted living and skilled nursing services.  As an industry, we have seen a steady increase in the frailty and acuity of the population we serve and this will certainly continue as the global population increases in life expectancy. As of 1950, the global life expectancy was 48 years; in 2050, it is projected to be 75 years.

As countries are grappling with aging, attention is turning to the well-developed senior living industry in the United States.  For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.