Baby Boom Housing Trends:"65+ in the United States", a study commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA,) of The National Institutes of Health is now a living document. The study, designed to get an overview of the health and socioeconomic status of aging Americans, found the following trends:
The U.S. population age 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. By 2030, almost 1-out-of-5 Americans, some 72 million people, will be 65 years or older. The age group 85 and older is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population.
The health of older Americans is improving. Still, many are disabled and suffer from chronic conditions. The proportion with a disability fell significantly from 26.2 percent in 1982 to 19.7 percent in 1999. But 14 million people age 65 and older reported some level of disability in Census 2000, mostly linked to a high prevalence of chronic conditions such as heart disease or arthritis.
The financial circumstances of older people have improved dramatically, although there are wide variations in income and wealth. The proportion of people aged 65 and older in poverty decreased from 35 percent in 1959 to 10 percent in 2003, mostly attributed to the support of Social Security. In 2000, the poorest fifth of senior households had a net worth of $3,500 ($44,346 including home equity) and the wealthiest had $328,432 ($449,800 including home equity).
Florida (17.6 percent), Pennsylvania (15.6 percent) and West Virginia (15.3 percent) are the "oldest" states, with the highest percentages of people age 65 and older. Charlotte County, Fla., (34.7 percent) has the highest concentration of older residents and McIntosh County, N.D., (34.2 percent) ranks second.
Higher levels of education, which are linked to better health, higher income, more wealth and a higher standard of living in retirement, will continue to increase among people 65 and older. The proportion of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree grew five-fold from 1950 to 2003, from 3.4 percent to 17.4 percent; and by 2030, more than one-fourth of the older population is expected to have an undergraduate degree. The percentage completing high school quadrupled from 1950 to 2003, from 17 percent to 71.5 percent.
As the United States as a whole grows more diverse, so does the population age 65 and older. In 2003, older Americans were 83 percent non-Hispanic white, 8 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. By 2030, an estimated 72 percent of older Americans will be non-Hispanic white, 11 percent Hispanic, 10 percent black and 5 percent Asian.
Changes in the American family have significant implications for future aging. Divorce, for example, is on the rise, and some researchers suggest that fewer children and more stepchildren may change the availability of family support in the future for people at older ages. In 1960, only 1.6 percent of older men and 1.5 percent of women age 65 and older were divorced; but by 2003, 7 percent of older men and 8.6 percent of older women were divorced and had not remarried. The trend may be continuing. In 2003, among people in their early 60s, 12.2 percent of men and 15.9 percent of women were divorced.
The 65+ report is a project of the NIA’s Behavioral and Social Research Program, which supports the collection and analyses of data in several national and international studies on health, retirement, and aging. The program’s director, Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., suggests that, with five years to go before the baby boom turns 65, "Many people have an image of aging that may be 20 years out of date. The very current portrait presented here shows how much has changed and where trends may be headed in the future."
While the report didn't go into housing, the results should impact community and housing design beyond the Universal Design features available today that eliminate or moderate difficulties in such ordinary tasks as turning off light switches and grabbing a bar to get up out of the bath. With a higher divorce rate, and lower remarriage rate for older females, resulting in an estimated 3 men for every single 10 females according to the Census, new types of housing could emerge that provide a variation on community or communal living for older single, divorced or widowed females.
Boomers are already notable in housing for their wealth and ability to buy second homes, which is driving the vacation home marketplace to new heights every year, but for their primary homes, what will they do -- remain near work centers, and if so, in what kinds of housing?
Will they age in place in their ranch-style ramblers or sell everything and move to a high-rise in the sky? How about a little waterfront in Southern Maryland listed with The McNelis Group, LLC?

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