Growing elderly population looks to age in place

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people in the United States are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. The average life expectancy at birth has risen from 47.3 years in 1900 to 76.9 in 2000. Improvements in medical care have also caused death rates for heart disease and other illnesses to decline for the population over 65.

As baby boomers reach the milestone age of 65 in 2011 and beyond, the number of older people is going to increase substantially. The country's senior population is projected to double to 72 million in 2030, and rise to 86.7 million by 2050. In fact, the senior population is expected to outgrow the number of caregivers available for assistance.

The most elderly segment of the population, those aged 85 and older, is also projected to grow substantially. Their numbers are expected to double twice over the coming years to 9.6 million in 2030 and then to 20.9 million in 2050.

Many seniors are choosing to age in place in their own homes rather than move to nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. Several factors are contributing to this trend including the high cost of these facilities, as well as the latest research on the physiological and emotional benefits seniors experience from living in their own homes.

To support the increased demand for independent living, government and planning agencies have been promoting initiatives such as aging in place. Aging in place promotes the implementation of accessible home designs and assistive technology such as senior alarms that allow the elderly to call for immediate assistance in case of an emergency. These devices are especially important for older seniors as this group is most likely to need external help to remain independent.

Chart showing the actual and projected rise in the U.S. senior population from 1990 to 2030


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