As baby boomers across the country are getting older, it’s having a major impact on the populations of counties in the Sacramento and Stockton regions.
In a CapRadio analysis of population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week, there was a notable increase in the number of people over the age of 65 from 2010 to 2019 in counties throughout this region.
El Dorado County saw the largest increase with a 58% jump. Meanwhile Sutter County saw the smallest with around a 25% increase. Sacramento County’s older adult population grew by about 40% as well, and San Joaquin’s by about 39%.
This aging of the population isn’t unique to the Sacramento and Stockton regions either, according to Luke Rogers with the Census Bureau. It’s a trend that’s being seen throughout California, and throughout the nation as well.
“It's largely due because the baby boomers are aging into the 65 and older population,” Rogers said. “I think the first of the baby boomers hit the 65 and older age group in 2011. And it's really driving this growth.”
This shift could signal some challenges in the future, according to Sacramento State University Gerontology Professor Catheryn Koss.
“That's a really big challenge and requires us to do some more long-term planning for our own retirement and puts some more burdens on caregivers who are caring for their older loved ones for more years than what earlier caregivers used to do,” Koss said.
In addition to baby boomers aging, a county’s increase in the number of adults over 65 could have to do with a number of things. According to Koss, that includes new retirement communities opening up, young people moving away while older existing residents stay, and people just living longer than decades before.
For El Dorado County, where CapRadio found the highest increase in the region, some of these other factors are in play. El Dorado County’s increase may be in part due to some new housing developments for older adults in the county, as well as more adults staying in the county as they age, according to a spokesperson with the El Dorado County Commission on Aging.
Nationwide, the Census Bureau also found the non-working-age population, which includes people under the age of 14 and over the age of 65, grew faster than the working-age population.
This can create an imbalance, as older people are pulling more out of the Social Security system, as well as other kinds of social services and safety net programs, according to Koss. Meanwhile, those programs are supported by payroll taxes from the working-age population.
“You want a balance of those folks that are younger and older who are relying on services paid for by payroll taxes,” Koss said. “I think Social Security and particularly in Medicare and those other programs, those folks looking at those numbers are worried that we don't have as many working age adults working to support the growing aging population.”
While this aging of the population certainly poses challenges, Koss said that she’s been encouraged by what she’s seen as local authorities work to respond to this change, including the city of Sacramento’s Age-Friendly Communities initiative.
The city of Sacramento is enrolled in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, as are the cities of Roseville and West Sacramento. Age-friendly communities adapt structures and services to be inclusive of older people, and include things like walkable streets, accessible housing and transportation, and easy access to key services.
“That's one way to address it proactively is to incorporate that decision making in our everyday planning for going forward in our community,” Koss said. “How can we look at every project that we're doing as a local government through the age-friendly lens and make sure that whatever we do is going to serve older adults?”
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