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Demographics – Impact of the Aging Population

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Demographics – Impact of the Aging Population

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University of Phoenix

HCS/490 Health Care Consumer – Trends and Marketing


Demographics is the study of the population as it pertains to particular geographic areas concerning age, sex, race, income, disability, and a host of other determining factors. Demographics of a population can be obtained through various means, the of the most reliable is that obtained through the government census. As instructed in Article 1, section 2 of the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution requires a census of the population every 10 years. The purpose of this is to obtain a correct count of the population for determining the number of representatives for each state to seat in Congress.

The government also uses the collected information and breaks the demographics down according to state, counties, cities and towns for a true picture of the population of these areas. With this being known, the government uses this information for the distribution of monies for the various demographic needs of the population. Each individual of every age, sex, race, income, and disability has different needs, and as a result affects each geographic location differently.

The Demographics of Monroe County, Michigan

Monroe County, Michigan has a population of 152,949 as of the 2008 population estimate (U.S. Census). This reflects an estimated population increase of 4.8% from the 2000 census. This increase is due in part from persons moving south out of Detroit, Michigan and those moving north from Toledo, Ohio. Monroe County has a predominantely-white population of 95.3%, black persons 2.4%, with the remaining percentages divided between the other races (U.S. Census). Number of people living below the national poverty level as of 2008 according to the U.S. Census is 10.4%. Persons who fall in the category of 65 or older consist of 12.5% of the population (U.S. Census).

Significant changes in population are anticipated between 1990 through 2035 for those ages 65 or older are expected to increase. According to the Monroe County Comprehensive plan, the population of aged residents, which were 65 and older in 1990, was 10.3%. By 2035 and because of increasing population in Monroe County it is expected that the population of aged individuals age 65 older will increase by 27,000 persons or an increase of 23.6%. The growth in this age group will have a significant change in the demographics of the population in all aspects including healthcare (MCPC).

Impact of the Aging Population

1946 saw the beginning of the most populous growth in the United States. World War II just ended, soldiers were coming home getting married, starting families, and re-entering the workforce. More than 78 million babies, known as the baby boomers, were born between 1946 and 1964. In 2008 this generation began joining retirement and drawing Social Security benefits. Because of the large numbers of Americans beginning to retire, it will begin to place a dramatic burden on Social Security and the healthcare system of the United States. “Many health professionals will retire about the same time that demand for their services is increasing” (DHS). With the U.S. already experiencing a shortage in nursing, and healthcare professionals beginning to retire, there is a disproportionate number of younger individuals, which desperately need to be attracted to replace those retiring, and an increase is needed to care for an increasing elderly population. At present, physicians spend approximately 32% of their time treating elderly patients. That is expected to increase to 39% by 2020 (DHS). The retiring population will increase faster than those entering the workforce. The number of elderly considered 65 and over, will increase 50% by 2020 and 127% by 2050. By 2050 “one in five Americans will be elderly” (DHS).

The oldest elderly, those considered to be 75 and older, is the most rapidly growing demographic group.

“In 2000, there were approximately 16.6 million people age 75 and over, 9.2 million people age 80 and over, and 4.2 million people age 85 and over. By 2020, the number of people in these age groups could reach 22 million, 13 million, and 7 million, respectively” (DHS).

This group of individuals will have higher healthcare utilization rates than any other groups in America.

Medical cost are increasing, therefore there is an increasing need to control expenditures. The aging population will be placing increasing demands on health insurance and Medicaid and Medicare. As the number of people retiring continues over the next 20 years, “

one countervailing trend is that tomorrow’s elderly might have lower disability rates than today’s elderly, controlling for age, because of improvements in economic resources, education levels, lifestyle, public health, and medical technology” (DHS). Declining disability rates have reduced demands on nursing home care. Although this is a good scenario, the elderly have different medical needs compared to those non-elderly. Therefore, there will be a need for those that specialize in medical needs required by the elderly. Although nursing home demands may be decreasing, community-based and home care needs will increase because more elderly are opting for this type of care.

Paying for Long Term Care

Who will be providing the elderly their healthcare needs? At present, the elderly receive Medicare, Medicaid, although some continue to pay for private insurers and their own out-of-pocket expenses. Because the demographics of the elderly are changing, so will the way the elderly will receive healthcare. Many as stated in the above paragraphs opt out of nursing home care because the fact is they are increasingly more able to care for themselves while still living at home or at community-based settings. Therefore, services provided by nurses, physical therapist, and home health aides will be required in these non-traditional settings. Unpaid workers, generally family members will increasingly provide assistance to their elderly family members.

What are the several factors, which are changing the way the elderly will be receiving healthcare services? The longevity of the aged. Many elderly individuals may receive care from their elderly children. This could prove to be too difficult for the elderly child, therefore again an increasing need for healthcare professionals who provide services in home or other community-based settings. Baby boomers will have a smaller network of unpaid individuals to care for them because they had smaller families than previous generations. Divorce rates were higher among Baby Boomers and research has showed that divorced individuals were less likely to receive long-term care compared to those that are widowed. Woman are more likely to provide care for their elderly parents therefore, woman may be required to take more time off from work, or take long leaves of absences from their employer.


The demographics of the aging and the increasing size of the aging population will change the supply and demand for healthcare workers. The aging population is increasing demands on Medicare and Medicaid with more elderly providing insurance for themselves and paying more out-of-pocket for their care. Services are increasingly provided as at home based settings with more care provided by family members. Our elderly are living longer lives, and are healthier than previous generations. More elderly today have elderly parents. These are the factors affecting the healthcare of the elderly today.


Government and Relations Policy (2009, July). The future of Medicare: Demographics vs. the cost of health care. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from

Monroe County Planning Commission(MCPC) (2009, October). Monroe county comprehensive plan. Monroe County Planning Commission. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from

U.S. Census Bureau (2010, February 23). State and county quick facts. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from

U.S. Department of Human Services (DHS) (2003, Spring). Changing demographics: implications for physicians, nurses, and other health workers. U.S. Department of Human Services. Retrieved March 27, 2010, from

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