An aging American population poses new health and social concerns as well as economic challenges. Could an innovative, cross-disciplinary approach be key to addressing these issues?
The population of the United States is not as young as it used to be, and the year 2035 represents a major demographic turning point. According to a 2018 U.S. Census Bureau report, in 2035 “there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.7 million under the age of 18.” In other words, the elderly population will outnumber children for the first time in the country’s history—a demographic shift that poses a unique set of public health challenges.
Los Angeles County will be especially impacted by the increasing ratio of non-working adults over 65 to working adults. In 2016, there were 5.2 working adults per retired person, but within 20 years, that number is expected to drop to 2.9.
As May is Older Americans Month, Shinyi Wu, associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and senior scientist at the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, explores the multifaceted challenges that communities will face in the coming years as they work to address the needs of older adults.