As we were doing some research online for a project this week, we stumbled upon this article published last month by the Huffington Post. While we’re aware of the growing population, and the baby boomers entering retirement and the aging process, the first paragraph of this article was particularly jarring:
Consider this: 8,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.  In 2013, adults over 65 constituted 14 percent of the population in the United States and will account for an estimated 20 percent by 2050.  There are already 55,000 Americans over age 100, and by 2050 the number of centenarians will reach 600,000 — roughly the population of the entire state of Vermont!
The entire state of Vermont? That’s a lot of people. Considering the state of Nebraska has 1.8 million people in it, that’s about a 1/3 of our state!
Here’s another stat worth mentioning — 93 percent of Americans over 65 live independently in the community, while only 3 percent reside in assisted living facilities and 4 percent in nursing homes.
Studies show that most Americans want to age in their home. That makes sense as it’s the place where they feel the most in control, the most independent, and the most comfortable. It’s where they’ve raised their children. Where they grew their businesses. Where they hosted the annual 4th of July picnic. There are decades of memories between the four walls, and they don’t want to entertain the idea of having to give that up during the aging process.
In many cultures outside of American, it is common to find several generations living under one roof. They take in their elderly relatives to care for them during their last years of life. While this happens in America as well, it happens at a much lower rate. Which means that the aging population is segregated and alone many times, without resources to help them live safely and healthfully. Adult children may be stretched to the max, trying to care for an aging parent that lives in another state, or another city, eating up their vacation time and more, traveling back and forth to see mom or dad.
While Sunlight Support exists to address this growing challenge in our society, we want to open the conversation to even more ideas. How do we continue to serve this growing population, and provide them with dignity, connection, and the resources they need during this precious time of their life?
The Huffington Post has many more interesting insights to share. You can check out the article here.