We all have those moments when our careers and personal lives converge. As a business leader at the largest health care real estate investment trust (REIT), I focus on investment projects in collaboration with senior living communities, health systems and medical groups to create the real estate infrastructure needed to deliver care for a growing number of aging Americans. As a wife, mother, sister and daughter, I also think about what my parents, aging relatives and even my future 80-year-old self will need when it comes to living well as we age.
The growth of the aging population is the most significant demographic trend impacting the U.S. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060. In addition, the number of people age 85 and older is projected to more than triple from 6 million today to nearly 20 million by 2060.
This increase in life expectancy is accompanied by an increased prevalence of chronic conditions, including dementia. According to the CDC, in the United States alone, more than a quarter of older Americans are burdened with multiple chronic disease, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and countless family members spend their days serving as unpaid caregivers. The most expensive and at risk population for the health care system to treat are the physically and cognitively impaired. We need to rethink how to best deliver care for this growing segment of the population.