It’s National Senior Citizens Day, a fitting time to reflect on the outlook for aging in America.
At Crisis Assistance Ministry, about 5% of the people served are age 65 and over. Like Frank (pictured above), each has a unique story of a life filled with triumphs and challenges; read Frank’s story here.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenges of aging, senior citizens contribute greatly to society. As a group, they give more generously to charities than any other age group. Many also volunteer, either formally or informally, to help organizations and neighbors in need. Their wisdom and experience lend valuable perspective on issues facing the community.
Of course, with aging comes special concerns. While senior citizens overall experience poverty at a lower rate (9.2%) than the general population (12.3%), for elders who do live in poverty, the effects are especially detrimental. Lower-income seniors tend to have fixed incomes, limited assets, and precarious health, leaving them vulnerable to increases in the cost of necessities such as housing, food, and health care.
For women, and especially women of color, the likelihood of experiencing poverty’s devastation late in life is disproportionately higher. Among older adults living below the poverty line, nearly two out of three are women, and those women are about twice as likely to be women of color.
As the last of the Baby Boomers approach retirement age, the nation’s demographics and institutions are undergoing historic changes.
Perhaps most notably, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the year 2035 children will be outnumbered by senior citizens for the first time in U.S. history. And less than three decades after that, our nation’s age composition will look nothing like it did back when the Baby Boomers toddled onto the scene.
In observance of Senior Citizens Day, take a moment to tell an elder how much they’re appreciated. Then reflect on the ways our community can ensure that everyone’s later years are lived in comfort and dignity.