Contributed By: Amy Funk, Geriatric Nurse – OSF Saint Francis Medical Center
The Aging of the Population
We are experiencing unprecedented change in world population demographics. People are living longer, while the birth rate has slowed. Chronic disease has replaced infectious disease as the leading cause of death. The growth of the older adult demographic is not only expanding but expanding at extraordinary speed.
- The world population 65 and older will increase from 500 million in 2006 to 1 billion by 2030.
- Worldwide, the oldest old (85 plus) will increase 151% from 2005 to 2030. This demographic is the fastest growing segment of most populations worldwide.
- At the same time, the age group 65 and younger will only increase 21% from 2005 to 2030. The birth rate is dropping. People over the age of 65 will be more numerous than children under 5 for the first time in history.
- The number of centenarians (100 plus) has doubled each decade since 1950.
Family & Social Change
In the United States, by 2030, 61 million older adults will be between the ages of 66 and 84 and 9 million older adults will be over 85. The next wave of change that the Baby Boom generation will influence is a great-grandparent boom.
As this generation moves into older adulthood with greater longevity, working adults may experience supporting their children, older parents, and grandparents. This will create a situation where families will increasingly face financial and emotional stress caring for loved ones. Older adults may have fewer resources for support.
According to the National Institute on Aging (2007), “There is no historical precedent for a majority of middle-aged and older adults having living parents”. These demographics have already impacted health care reform, Medicare, pensions, and may redefine employment in later life.
While Baby Boomers are predicted to be more active and healthy than previous generations, chronic disease, cognitive impairment and mental health issues will drive demand for health care services. In the next blog post, we will explore what this change means for health systems and recommendations to prepare for changing demographics.
In Part II, we will explore how these social changes will impact health care.