Demographic Changes and Aging Population
The U.S. population is aging. Today, there are more than 46 million older adults age 65 and older living in the
U.S.; by 2050, that number is expected to grow to
almost 90 million. Between 2020 and 2030 alone, the time the last of the baby boom cohorts reach age 65,
the number of older adults is projected to increase by almost
18 million. This means by 2030, 1
in 5 Americans is projected to be 65 years old and over.
The issue of aging is especially important in rural areas because residents tend to be older, on average, than those in urban
areas. Older adults also disproportionately live in
rural areas. In 2010,
of all adults 65 years and older lived in rural areas.
This map, based on 2010 Census Data, shows the percent of the population over age 65 by county:
With an aging population comes an increasing
need for healthcare, long-term care, and social services to support older adults as they age. Adults over age
65 have different healthcare needs than children and younger adults because they may have multiple chronic
health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and hypertension. It is estimated that
90% of adults over age 65 experience one or more chronic condition, and need specific treatments and medical
care, setting them apart from the rest of the population.
Older adults not only rely on their primary care physician, but also on long-term care services and supports.
of physicians, long-term care assistants, nurses, social workers, and family caregivers often work
together to provide tailored and coordinated care to older adults. Access to health care is critical for older
adults to age in place.
Because many retirees are choosing to move
to rural destinations and keep their independent
lifestyle, many rural counties are naturally becoming retirement communities. However, these communities
have fewer options for geriatric care teams and accommodations specifically designed for older adults, such as
retirement communities and assisted
Resources to Learn More
Provides general statistics on the aging of the U.S. population, including what percentage of the population is
Organization(s): Federal Interagency Forum on Aging Related Statistics
of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060
Gives an overview of the size and characteristics of the older adult population today, as well as projections
about the population through 2060.
Author(s): Colby, S., & Ortman, J.
Organization(s): U.S. Census Bureau