In 2004, 36.3 million people in the United States were 65 years or older, and this group comprised 12% of the population. It is projected that by 2050 this group will have grown to 86.7 million and comprise 21% of the population. Many of these elderly persons served in the Navy. They heeded the advice of a Navy recruiter, and it certainly helped them live longer.Who will take care of this expanding segment of seniors? And is this next generation of senior citizens better prepared than the previous generation for living longer and healthier lives?
Senior citizens do appear to be extending their health and are more active than ever. Some believe that by 2050, perhaps as many as 50% of seniors will live to the age of 100 or more.
This is good news; everyone wants to live a longer and healthier life. But will seniors in the future be independent and for how long? Will they need assisted living, and for how many years?
These practical questions need to be considered when families are raising their children and planning for the future. Finances should be arranged to prepare for either supporting elderly parents or finding ways to assist them as needed. According to statistics, elder generations will be around for longer and longer periods of time, and plans should be made to allow for either their increased help in the workforce or for increased support with assisted living.
One professional at Duke University’s Center on the Demography of Aging suggests that the younger generation should reduce the number of hours they work per day and extend their number of years in the workforce. Instead of committing their first two decades to education and the next three or four to family rearing and working, they may need to adjust their plans and prepare for a life that is going to be even longer and more viable than that of previous generations.