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Report Examines How the Elderly Boom Will Affect States

  • October 23rd, 2004

We all know that the U.S. population will age dramatically over the next two decades, but the effect on each state will be different. Some states will "age" more rapidly than others, and the consequent strains on services will vary. A new National Governors Association report quantifies, on a state-by-state basis, the shifts that will take place over the next 20 years.

According to the report, every state in the Union will experience a growth in the proportion of its population that is elderly, but some states will see more dramatic growth than will others. For example, in 2000 Pennsylvania was ranked second in the proportion of its population that was elderly (15.6 percent). But by 2025, Pennsylvania will have dropped to number 17 among the states. By contrast, Oregon will move from number 25 in 2000 to number 4 in 2025, when one in four of its residents will be over age 65. The report features a chart in Chapter 1 ranking the proportion of population over age 65, by state, in 2000 and 2025.

There will also be shifts among the states in the proportion of residents making up the "oldest old," those age 85 and over. The most dramatic change will be in Idaho, which will move from 35th place among the states in 2000 to first place in 2025, when nearly 6 percent of state residents will be 85 or older. However, Alaska is expected to experience the greatest percentage increase in its population that is 85 or older -- 204 percent.

The report also warns that to prepare for the projected 12.3 million Americans who will need long-term care by 2030, states will need to work on recruiting and retaining quality workers. For example, Texas will need 55,280 more home health and nursing aides by 2025 to maintain current ratios.

The report, Measuring the Years: State Aging Trends & Indicators, was prepared for the National Governors Association by the Center for an Aging Society. To read it, click on http://www.nga.org/center/databook04/

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Last Modified: 10/23/2004

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