Today, the United States continues to undergo rapid demographic changes. In all likelihood, the trends observed by population experts will exercise a significant impact upon senior care in coming years. Paying close attention to these developments will assist Baby Boomers entering their golden years.
Different Generational Segments
Sociologists define “demography” as the statistical study of human populations. This broad field often involves reviewing census data and population surveys. At the present time, the Pew Research Organization reports most experts recognize five distinct adult generations in the United States:
- The Greatest Generation: Born 1901-1927
- The “Silent” Generation: Born 1928-1945
- The Baby Boomer Generation: Born 1946-1964
- Gen X: Born 1965-1980
- The Millennial Generation: Born 1981-1996
Some members of the Greatest Generation lived through both WWI and WWII; these individuals currently include anyone age 92 and above. A substantial percentage of surviving members of this rapidly diminishing group require senior care services today. Their children in the Silent Generation also frequently utilize this assistance.
People born in the broad “Baby Boomer” demographic group recently began retiring in large numbers. This trend should increase dramatically during the next decade. Immigration has enhanced the size of this demographic in the past: 1999 witnessed the largest Baby Boomer population in the USA at 78.8 million people.
Senior Care During Future Years
Reportedly, extensive immigration during recent years has also contributed to the size of the Millennial Generation demographic. As more Baby Boomers pass away, the number of Millennials will actually begin surpassing the Baby Boomer demographic (a change projected to occur during 2019). By 2028, Gen X will exceed the Boomers in population size, too. Members of the Millennial and the Gen X demographic segments increasingly seek long and short-term senior care for aging family members.
One possible concern for many households today involves the recent decline in available nursing home beds. Operating specialized senior care facilities in certain places has resulted in significant costs. For example, roughly 40,000 residents of Massachusetts currently require daily senior care services in nursing homes. Yet during the past 12 months alone, some 20 of these facilities reportedly closed their doors in the state. The high costs of care have presented challenges for numerous providers. Caring for aging Baby Boomers will require innovative planning!