CICF News / 2010 / November / News Post
November 30, 2010
Silver Tsunami to Hit Indiana on January 1, 2011

On January 1, 2011, an estimated one out of every five Hoosiers will begin turning age 65 – along with 77 million other “Baby Boomers” across the country.

Part of what has been dubbed a “Silver Tsunami,” these Hoosiers make up the largest and fastest growing population in Indiana. On average, a Baby Boomer will turn 65 every 7-8 seconds for the next 18 years across the country – about 12,000 every day. For the first time in history, people aged 65 and older will soon outnumber children under the age of 5.

Across the state – and around the country – business, community and academic leaders and organizations are concerned that communities are not ready for the potential effects the surge in seniors will create.

The Indiana EngAGEment Initiative is part of a national effort to address the many complex issues – and opportunities – created by this rapidly growing population. In conjunction with the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance, a not-for-profit based in Indianapolis, the Initiative led an effort in eight communities across Indiana to study and discuss those issues and opportunities.

On December 2nd, 2010, leaders from those eight counties along with representatives from other organizations addressing the issues, including Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Central Indiana Community Foundation, Indiana University and the University of Indianapolis will meet in Indianapolis for an update about the state’s preparedness along with necessary next steps for improving responsiveness.


A 2008 survey of Indiana communities by the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance showed that Indiana communities were doing very little to prepare for aging Boomers. According to a Meals on Wheels’ 2009 national report, Indiana ranked 12th in the nation for food insecurity for seniors (meaning food is either unavailable or is inaccessible).

Hunger In America 2010, a national study of emergency food distribution in the United States (which also included Indiana), states that more than half of households with seniors age 65 and
2 older experienced low food security, and that requests from seniors for emergency food is at an all time high.

A 2008 Indiana AdvantAGE survey also found that of Hoosiers 60 and older:

  • 81% report their health as good to excellent.
  • 27% remain in the part time and full time workforce in Indiana.
  • 21% would like to be working for pay.
  • 45% do not have access to public transportation.
  • 85% have voted in local elections in the past three years.
  • 39% volunteer, with 18% volunteering 10 or more hours per week.
  • 87% have lived in their communities for 10 or more years.
  • 52% have lived in their communities for more than 50 years.
  • 94% would like to remain in their current residence as long as possible.

(Source: 2008 Indiana AdvantAge survey of 5,000 randomly selected Hoosiers age 60 and over. Center for Home Care Policy and Research, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and Center on Aging & Community, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University Bloomington. For more information email or visit the project website at

“We began to look at this as either a Silver Tsunami or a Golden Opportunity for our Indiana communities,” said Marie Beason, manager of educational programs for the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance. “These are seniors who will have age-associated needs, but they are also driving, buying, voting, volunteering and working. The big question is whether we’re prepared for the changes these seniors will certainly create.
”Nearly 42% of Indiana’s current workforce will be aging into retirement over the next 20 years. According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce “Workforce Wise” report, aging is one of three major challenges facing Indiana’s workforce. Some employers have begun flex and lower hours for seniors, though according to the Chamber’s report, “Aging Implications: A Wake Up Call,” many Indiana businesses are simply not ready for the effects the aging workforce will have on the workplace.In Indianapolis, a fund that provides over $500,000 each year to help address the needs of seniors in central Indiana was created at the Central Indiana Community Foundation in 2004.
Established by the board of directors of the Indianapolis Retirement Home, the Indianapolis Retirement Home Fund has goals including: promoting good overall health, ensuring the needs of low-income seniors are met, enabling seniors to live in an environment of their choice and providing life-affirming opportunities. In 2008, the Fund launched a three-year initiative, “Elders at the Table,” to help address food insecurity for seniors in central Indiana.


  • Phil Stafford, of The Center on Aging and Community at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University.

  • Ellen Miller, PhD, PT is the Executive Director of the Center for Aging & Community at University of Indianapolis.

  • Mark Lawrance, Sr. VP, Foundation and Operations, Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

  • Pam Velo, Associate Vice President for Donor Services, Central Indiana Community Foundation, Elders at the Table.



Indiana Grantmakers Alliance (IGA) is a nonprofit membership association serving the state’s community, corporate, family, independent, operating, private and public foundations, as well as corporate giving programs. IGA promotes legal, ethical, effective and efficient grantmaking, by providing its members with advocacy, education, information and networking opportunities. IGA’s approximately 140 organizational members hold 14.7 billion in assets and award 700 million in grants each year.

Media contact: Sonya Baker-Hallett, Indiana Grantmakers Alliance, Email: