While senior care may seem like it focuses on a single demographic, professionals in the field know very well how the “senior” grouping is more of an umbrella, encompassing a wide variety of groups and individuals. Here are five key statistics that senior care professionals and organizations should be aware of right now.
By 2030, 1 in 6 people will be aged 60 and older.
According to the World Health Organization, the aging population is set to expand significantly over the next decades. By 2030, WHO projects that 1/6 of the world population will be at or over the age of 60, and between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years of age will nearly double, from 12% to 22%. This is a faster shift towards a higher proportion of older individuals than we’ve seen in the past, and that means that institutions, both big and small, will need to be prepared to handle the needs of this large, aging demographic. Senior care as an overall field will, of course, be seeing expansion as more people need care, but we’ll also likely see larger shifts in the healthcare field and in society as a whole to meet these needs.
Rural areas tend to have an older population, on average.
Over the past decade, research has increasingly shown that rural areas skew more heavily towards aging populations than urban centers do. One report from the Census Bureau found that 17.5% of the rural population was 65 years and older compared to 13.8% in urban areas. Overall, more than 20% of older Americans live in rural areas, and many are heavily concentrated in states where more than half of the older population lives in rural areas. Because of this, it will be particularly important that these areas have the infrastructure, access, and support they need to provide adequate care for all the seniors living there. Along those lines, senior care organizations may need to consider new strategies to entice candidates to be willing to move to more rural locations where their services are needed.
The need for caregiving increases with age.
As you might expect, the likelihood that an individual will need assistance correlates with their age. In 2018, the percentage of older adults age 85 and older who needed help with personal care (21%) was more than twice the percentage for adults ages 75–84 (8%) and five times the percentage for adults ages 65–74 (4%). As the population continues to age further, and in larger numbers, the need for professional and experienced caregivers will also increase. Senior care providers should be planning for this now, building a pipeline of talent to ensure the ability to scale as needed over the coming years.
Women are more likely to need assistance than men.
There are numerous reasons for this gap – including the fact that women, on average, outlive men, and therefore are more likely to reach an older age where more help is needed – but the fact remains: women make up a higher percentage of senior care recipients. Among people age 75 or older, women are 60 percent more likely than men to need help with one or more daily tasks, and over 70% of nursing home and assisted living residents are women. It’s important for senior care providers to consider the gender differences in required care, and to have resources available to properly support the population.
Licensed senior drivers still may not drive much.
In 2020, there were almost 48 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older in the United States. Even if they’re licensed, however, many seniors may no longer want to drive themselves or may not feel as comfortable as they once did. It’s important for senior care organizations to maintain the staff, the licensure, the insurance, and the vehicles to offer reliable transportation to these individuals. Having these options can reassure prospective clients (and their families) that they’ll still be able to live their lives fully, just without their own foot on the gas this time.
By Tom Zeleny, NHA