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Lifestyles

March 29, 2014

From the Office: Time is now to plan for the aging tsunami

It’s coming. Maybe not this year, but starting in 2016, the number of older adults across the our country will begin to grow. At first it will only be a small increase, but as the baby boomers move up in age, the wave of individuals coming into the “senior” age group will become the largest in the census categories. 

According to the 2000 Census, by 2020 there will be 56 million people 65 and older, and by 2040, that will grow to nearly 80 million. Their collective power will be felt in many areas — the purchasing strength of savings and retirement resources without the presence of a home mortgage; the volunteer potential of those who are able and now not in need of working; the voting strength to bring about change in their areas of special interest; and also, an increase in direct service needs.

Historically, just above 5 percent (or 135,028) of the state’s age-65-and-older population live in group-care facilities, and 80 percent of them live in nursing homes. In addition, for those living at home in the community, 10 percent have self-care limitations (that is, difficulty taking care of personal needs, such as bathing, dressing, or getting around inside the house due to health condition that had lasted for six or more months); and 20 percent of them have mobility limitations (difficulty going outside the house alone, to shop or visit the doctor, due to a health condition that had lasted for six months or more). For those 75 and older living at home, these prevalence rates have historically increased to 15 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

Home and community-based services will become increasingly more and more important to support those with chronic conditions and functional limitations. According to the Long Term Care government website, someone turning 65 today has almost a 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years. Planning will be important to accomplish to help individuals stay in their homes and age in place. This is also a positive financial option, as community-based long-term care is about one-third the cost of comparable nursing-home care.

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