North America may be aging, but the rate of aging isn’t the same everywhere. A recent article published in the Washington Post newspaper reports that the Appalachian region of the north-eastern United States is leading the national trend in graying.
The Appalachian region spans 13 states, from southern New York State to the northern portion of Mississippi, and census data shows that they already outpace the rest of the country in their proportion of citizens over the age of 65.
“These counties are like the canary in the coal mine,” gerontologist Suzanne Kunkel told the newspaper. “This is a pretty dramatic change coming.”
Some of the consequences of a rapidly aging population include increased demand for healthcare services, increased demand for senior housing options, including assisted living and active living, as well as assistance with transportation.
Some of the unique challenges facing the Appalachian counties include an abundance of poor local road systems, a per-capita income nearly 20 per cent lower than the national average, low university graduation rates, as well as a poorer healthcare system.
One expert told the news source that one option for aging counties is to create ‘retirement zones’ where there is quicker, easier access to affordable services for seniors.