Aging in Michigan: Understanding the trends and implications

Understanding how and the rate at which adults are aging in Michigan will help communities and policy-makers be better-equipped to respond to their needs.

The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, continues to age. As they reach age 65, it becomes imperative for communities to be well prepared to adjust to a larger group of older adults. According to the Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being report, a longer life span can be attributed to an increase in physical activity, an increased access to food and to an increase in saved income of older adults. However, this will also contribute to an increase in the cost of living due to multi-generational homes and an increase in utilities and food costs.

According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics (FIFARS), seniors (or those age 65 or older) represented 13 percent of the total U.S. population in 2010 and are expected to grow to 20 percent of the total population by 2030. By 2030, there will be 72 million older adults in the U.S. with 1.2 million Michigan residents (12.3 percent of the total state population) being seniors. An additional 863,000 (8.7 percent of Michigan's population) are near seniors, (aged 55–64); and over the next 30 years, both the number of Americans aged 65 and over and the number aged 85 and over are expected to double. 

The 2010 Census found that 14.1 percent of Michigan’s current adult population is comprised of seniors. These same census numbers show 34 percent of Michigan’s population as over the age of 50. Michigan’s population is aging slightly faster because of low birth rates and the number of elderly aging-in-place. This change in population means it is important for today’s communities and policymakers to have an accessible, easy-to-understand portrait of how older adults fare and are different from older adults of the past.

Here are some examples of these trends.

  • In 2010, 80 percent of seniors were high school graduates and 23 percent had a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This means today’s seniors have had more formal education than past generations.
  • Over the past four decades, labor force participation rates have risen for women age 55 and over. As Baby Boomers approach older ages, they are remaining in the labor force longer and at higher rates than previous generations. Older adults are more likely still working than older adults from previous generations.
  • As seen with other age groups, the number of seniors who are obese has increased. In 2010, 38 percent of people age 65 and over were obese, compared with only 22 percent in 1988–1994. This is not just an issue with older adults, but with the increasing aging of the population, increasing rates of obesity are a real concern.
  • Use of hospice in the last month of life increased from 19 percent in 1999, to 43 percent in 2009. Evidence that today’s older adult has shifting healthcare attitudes.

For more information on these emerging trends, please see the FIFARS’s publication, “Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-being.”

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