The US has an aging population. The 75 million baby boomer Americans are entering retirement age. A U.S. Census Bureau report says the elderly population is set to outnumber children for the first time in the country’s history. By 2035, there will be 78 million people ages 65 and above and only 76.4 million individuals under the age of 18.
Many of these baby boomers intend to age in place. But is America ready for the influx of seniors who prefer to stay in their own homes?
What is Aging in Place?
Aging in place is when seniors choose to grow old in their own homes and communities, with the comforts that they consider important. Aging in place empowers older adults as it gives them the chance to retain their independence even as they enter their twilight years.
But aging in place independently matters equally as aging in place well. This entails providing supplementary facilities and tools that may aid their condition and maintain their quality of life as they age.
This trend opens several opportunities business-wise. For instance, reverse mortgages are uniquely designed to help seniors grow old in their own homes, even those who still carry previous mortgage debts. A reverse mortgage allows them to access their home equity to finance their needs.
The aging in place trend also opens in-home senior care franchise opportunities. Since the elderly prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes instead of getting admitted into facilities, they need live-in services, companionship, light housekeeping, and other care.
A Two-Fold Impact on the Economy
Aging in place has a possible two-fold effect on the economy. On a positive note, it can help keep the senior population productive for longer. Since they feel that their agency remains intact even as they age, senior workers can feel confident enough to work as long as they’re well enough to do so. Older workers have accumulated tacit, technical, and formal skills throughout their years of serving in the workforce. They can help younger employees find the best career path in secure and well-paid jobs through job sharing or mentoring roles.
Home care providers have started tapping retirees to fill the gaps in their workforce as well. They are well-equipped with personal and professional experiences, making them suitable for caregiving jobs. Some of the individuals over 65 also went through several health ailments. This enables them to relate better and understand patients who are experiencing the same ordeal, making them more compassionate caregivers.
These findings line up with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) report that more people ages 55 and above are actively looking for work. The BLS expects the labor force participation rate of the over-65 population to increase through 2024.
On the flipside, the aging population may have a paralyzing effect on the economy. As the retirees continue to outnumber the younger generations, the labor force must support the senior population through higher taxes. The fact that many baby boomers are not prepared for retirement and have little savings exacerbates this problem.
The US has a long way to go in taking care of its senior population. It needs to take longer strides to avoid a population structure that would place the burden of caring for the elderly on the workforce. The country can start with establishing a better health care system, improving pension plans, and make housing cheaper to help the aging population be better prepared for retirement.