In fact, a number of other developed nations have “older” populations, including many European countries. But it may be instructive to examine Japan for some clues about what increased longevity and an aging population may mean for the U.S. in the future.
In 1963 Japan had just over 150 centenarians. According to government figures, the number of people 100 years or older in 2010 exceeded 61,500. Japan also has the highest life expectancy in the world. While there is no single factor to attribute to Japan’s longevity, research indicates that diet, healthcare and social connection all contribute to the continued growth of the population over 65 and the explosion of the super seniors 100 years of age and older.
That aging 65+ population in Japan is expected to grow from around 25 percent today to over 40 percent by 2025. As a result the government is anticipating the need for an extra 1,000,000 care workers to meet the needs of the larger number of aged citizens.
Meanwhile the U.S. already has about 72,000 centenarians and that number will be growing very rapidly as the U.S. population over 65 continues to add 10,000 baby boomers a day to its ranks. At the same time, just under 7,000 Americans a day are passing away. Based upon U.S. Census projections, the oldest of the old (the 85+ and 100+ age categories) are among the fastest growing segment of the population and will undoubtedly have a huge impact on society, including America’s nonprofit organizations and institutions. ■