The “silver tsunami” is coming.
“The silver tsunami is on us,” said Kathy Floyd, who is the executive director of the Georgia Council on Aging. “It’s not down the road. It’s not coming soon. It’s on us now.”
No question about it, according to Floyd and others.
The question: Is Southwest Georgia and the nation ready?
The SunLight Project story in the Wednesday, July 10, edition looked at the aging population of Georgia. A population that is reflective of the United States.
By the year 2030, when these baby boomers will all be older than 65, one in every five Americans will be retirement age, according to the U.S. Census. It will mark the first time in U.S. history that older people will outnumber children.
Though slightly more than a decade away, the shift has already started with many baby boomers already 65 and older. By 2030, the last of the baby boomers, the ones born in 1964, will be older than 65.
An aged and aging population is expected to place a burden on social and medical services as well as government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
State Rep. John LaHood is not only a Republican legislator from Valdosta. He is part of family-operated assisted living and memory-care facilities.
Based on his knowledge and experience in the field, he convinced lawmakers the issue — and the potential impact on the state — warrants a closer look. House lawmakers backed his request to form a study committee, which LaHood said he hopes will suggest legislative fixes as soon as next session.
In Georgia alone, the population of residents who are 65 years and older is expected to leap from 1.3 million three years ago to 2.9 million in 2040, according to U.S. Census figures cited in the measure forming the study committee. The fastest growth will be among those 85 and older.
Already, some seniors can afford the help they need. Others cannot.
“I’m not a proponent of increasing or growing taxpayer-funded social programs, but if we have this growing demographic that is going to need care and if the current process is funneling people to a more costly care option, then we may need to look at changing some policy so that the taxpayer-funded programs are more cost-effective, which could mean opening up different types of care settings to a government-funded program,” LaHood said.
We agree with LaHood.
Legislators need to look at this issue now. South Georgia, the entire state and the country face the increase of an aging population. Real-world solutions should be weighed and implemented as soon as possible.
Again, 2030 is the date when the last baby boomers are older than 65, but the older-than-65 population started increasing yesterday and will only grow larger today and tomorrow and with each passing year.
Now is the time. The “silver tsunami” grows.