May is National Older Americans Month. This is a time to both celebrate seniors and raise awareness about the many ways older adults impact the lives of others. It is also an opportunity to learn about one of the most important demographic groups in the country, which is far too often taken for granted in today’s busy society.

Did you know that when Older Americans Month was first created more than a half-century ago in 1963, there were only 17 million Americans, out of an average population of 189 million, who would actually live long enough to see their 65th birthday. Today, however, there are an estimated 49.2 million American seniors. They comprise roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population.

Now, for the first time ever, research tells us that older adults are on track to out-number young people. By the end of the next decade, the entire living “Baby Boomer” generation will be older than age 65. This means one in every five U.S. citizens will be of retirement age. By 2035, that number will swell to an astounding 78 million people, comfortably eclipsing those under the age of 18.

Let us share a few more surprising facts during this year’s National Older Americans Month:

  • In 2009, there were 39.6 million people aged 65 and older. In the past 10 years, there has been an increase of 10 million more, or 25 percent growth.
  • Americans over age 60 already out-number those under 15 years old.
  • “Elder Americans,” or those age 85 and up, are the single fastest growing age group in the country.
  • 42 percent of Americans aged 65 and older are from minority groups.
  • Between 1900 and 1960, life expectancy increased by 2.4 years. Since 1960, it’s increased by 3.5 years.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the country’s senior population will top 87 million by 2050.

There are many reasons to honor older adults, and National Older Americans Month is a great opportunity to show our beloved seniors just how much they mean to us.

It is also the right time to have important conversations surrounding how to age well as Older Americans or as their loved ones. Knowing how you will handle the need for long-term care, should it arise, or the legacy you want to leave your family, are critical choices to make while you are able to make decisions for yourself. Do not wait to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum to discuss the planning you want to make for yourself and your family.