In the 1950s, communities throughout the United States built and expanded schools to accommodate the post-war baby boom, the growth in births that defined the decade after World War II. Their sheer size (an estimated 76 million people who account for 26 percent of the population, according to the Pew Research Center) meant boomers would have an influence on practically every facet of “the American way of life.” Their ranks forced the creation of new schools, swelled college enrollment, fed the country’s ever-growing economic engine and shaped values and perspectives on everything from feminism to civil rights.
Today, boomers are creating another sea change in American life – the rapid expansion of the United States’ senior population is responsible for what has been dubbed a “silver tsunami”. In the US, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old each day, a staggering number that will once again force the creation of social systems and structures to support its size. While many seniors report that they are prepared to meet the challenges of retirement, health changes and new roles in their communities, a recent study suggests that communities must do more to meet the needs of these new seniors.
The United States of Aging Survey, conducted by UnitedHealthcare, USA TODAY, and the National Council on Aging, reveals that many seniors – and the communities they live in – may face significant challenges in living healthy and independent lives over the next decade. The survey found that nearly one in four boomers in their 60s lack confidence in their community’s resources and supports for healthy aging.
Other key findings include:
- Nine out of ten seniors plan to live in their current homes for the next five to ten years, a potential infrastructure challenge for neighborhoods without sidewalks, transit or Americans with Disability Act accessibility.
- While more than 80 percent of seniors feel “safe” walking in their community, a third report that high-quality transportation services are currently unavailable to them.
- Twenty-two percent of seniors are unsure if caregiver supports or services are available in their community, and 28 percent serve as a caregiver to another person.
- Seniors generally report that they are confident in both their personal wellness and their ability to find a primary care physician. Two-thirds of seniors rely on Medicare to pay for health services, and one in four are concerned about their ability to afford the current Medicare costs like deductibles, copays and premiums over the next decade.
The Central Indiana Senior Fund, a CICF fund, works locally to address many of these issues. Find out more about the fund and read related stories about seniors’ issues and services in central Indiana.