aging-1The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently held the 2013 Age-Friendly Communities Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here are some eye-opening facts on the aging American populace, with an emphasis on Michigan, which illustrates why it makes good economic sense for municipalities to become age-friendly communities:

The last Baby Boomer turns 65 in 2030.

32.8% of Michigan’s population is over the age of 50. That number is projected to increase to 36.8% by 2030.

Seniors are economic drivers not drains: Americans ages 50+ control over half of America’s discretionary income, and a significant percentage of new businesses are started by people in this age group.

Michigan residents ages 65+ have a combined annual income of $37 billion and tend to spend much of that income locally.

Forget the snowbird myth. Nearly 90% of those ages 65+ want to stay in their home for as long as possible. But without age-friendly changes in how communities are constructed and service are delivered, many will find it difficult if not impossible to do so.

71.7% of Michigan’s housing stock are detached single-family homes—but less than half of all Michigan households are married couples, and slightly less than a third have children under the age of 18.

The case for walkability: one in five Americans ages 65+ do not drive. In fact, men outlive their “drive-ability” by 7 years, and women by 10 years.

The case for public transit:  Older adults increased their use of public transit by 40% between 2001 and 2009. About 15% of those over age 65 use public transit at least once a month, with more than half of them needing specialized transportation.

During the last century, the number of Americans over age 65 multiplied nearly 11 times, from 3.1 million in 1900 to 35 million in 2000.

Only about 5% of those ages 65+ require long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. About 15% suffer from chronic conditions which somewhat limit their ability to be fully active. The remaining 80% are able to engage in the normal activities of living.

Almost 30% of families have at least one member with a disability—but only 3% of Americans live in homes with any kind of accessibility features.