Aging in America

I come from a culture where aging is a shared experience that families go through, not just something that happens to grandma and grandpa. Able-bodied adults take care of the young and the old, until it is their turn to be taken care of. There’s much grumbling and passive aggression, huge sacrifices are made, yet everyone knows their roles and does their duty. Also, death as a natural recycling of life and life is not extended at “any” cost. I suspect this perspective on aging and death is grounded in religion, poverty and a collectivist culture. It’s not perfect, but it works.

Aging in America is different. This makes sense given the hyper-individualism of the culture, the relatively “functional” government and public amenities, the insane costs of healthcare and high costs of living.

This is Part 1 of an 8 part series where I will share my learnings in the field of aging and caregiving in America. My approach is:

  1. Data crunching – consume & make sense of available large scale data & research
  2. Empathy building – interview & listen to individuals that represent the heart of the problem space (individuals over 65 and their care givers)
  3. Expert advice – interview & research experts in the domain (insurance providers, long term care providers etc.)

So let’s start with the basics in this first chapter. Here’s the demographic overview of “aging” population of the US.

The aging population in the US is on the rise, and will continue to grow faster than the total population

agingpopulation

Almost 1/4th of the U.S population will be over 65 by 2040

agingpopulationpercentage

The age pyramid will no longer be a pyramid. This means the number of individuals over 65 will be larger than the number of young individuals

agepyramid

Other countries are facing the same demographic shift

worldpopulationaging

 

There are a few simple leading factors that explain the thickening of the age pyramid.

factors

 

Factor 1: Life expectancy is going up due to advancements in medicine and wellness

Factor 2: More individuals reach older age than before for similar reasons

Factor 3: People in developed countries are having fewer children

 

The rise of the aging population has implications on housing, healthcare, employment, long term care, adult care givers, exploitation, politics and public policy. I will be deep diving into each of these in future posts, but here are a few teasers.

Housing 

housingaging

Healthcare

health

Employment

olderamericansemployment

There’s been a 117% increase (over the last 20 years) in individuals over 65 who are still working.

whatolderpeopledo

Exploitation

exploitation

 

More to come…