The US Census Bureau dropped multiple reports late last week containing age-related information from the 2020 Census. Some of the information puts the latest data to trends we’ve known about — silver wave, anyone? — but it’s nice to have those latest data.
According to the Census findings, from 2010 to 2020, the US population aged 65 or more years experienced the largest and fastest growth in any decade since 1880 to 1890. Those 65+ account for 16.8% of the total population as of 2020. The aging of the baby boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — was responsible for most of this increase, of course, and as boomers (aged 55 to 74 in 2020) continue to age, older adults will make up an even bigger share of the total US population.
Beyond that, several thoughts struck me as I read the reports.
Will more residents be men?
Women continued to outnumber men in the 65+ population in the 2020 Census, but men experienced more rapid growth than women in the older ages from 2010 to 2020. The number of men aged 65 or more years increased by 44% in that time, whereas the growth rate for older women was 34.4%.
Could this mean that senior living providers will be serving more men in the future?
Will more residents live into their 100s?
The number of centenarians — people aged 100 or more years — increased 50.2% from 2010 to 2020, growing from 53,364 to 80,139 during that time. The Census Bureau said this was the fastest recent census-to-census percent change for that age group.
Could this mean later move-ins in the future, or longer lengths of stay, or perhaps something else?
Prepare for a more diverse clientele
Although the older adult population overall remains predominantly white (76.6% in 2020), the 2020 percentage is a drop from the 84.8% reported in the 2010 Census. Meanwhile, percentages for other racial groups tracked in the 2020 Census grew, although the bureau said that some of the changes reported may be due to questions that yielded more accurate data in 2020.
Older adults identifying as Black grew from 8.5% to 9.2% of the older adult population from 2010 to 2020; Hispanic or Latino, 6.9% to 8.8%; Asian, 3.4% to 4.5%; and American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.5% to 0.7%. Additionally, the percentage of census participants identifying as two or more races increased from 1% of the older adult population in 2010 to 5.5% in 2020.
Perhaps not surprisingly, when it comes to places with 100,000 or more people, those in warm climates had the highest percentages of older adults.
Cities in warm climates also had the highest percentages of people aged 85 or more years, with Arizona (one city), California (three), Florida (five) and Hawaii (one) also making that top 10 list.
It seems that that reality isn’t likely to change anytime soon. For those aged 65 or more years, cities in Arizona (two cities), California (one), Florida (six) and Hawaii (one) were the 10 places with the highest percentages of older adults.
Other geography-related findings:
- Maine was the state with the largest percentage of those aged 65 and older, with 21.8% of its population in that group. Three other states also had older adult populations that topped 20% of their total populations: Florida (21.2%), Vermont (20.6%) and West Virginia (20.5%).
- 11 states saw their 65-and-older population grow by at least 50% between 2010 and 2020: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington.
- The Northeast has the largest percentage of people in older ages, followed by the Midwest, but the South and West saw faster growth in the older population than did the Northeast and Midwest.
- A larger proportion of those aged 65 or more years (24%) than the total population (20%) lived in rural areas.
But wait — there’s more!
Actually, there are more than four things the 2020 Census can tell us about the future. It can’t tell us everything, of course, but I encourage you to explore the documents at the links below to learn more and think about what the data could mean to the industry’s future — and what you can do to prepare.
Lois A. Bowers is the editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Read her other columns here.