A recent article in The New York Times highlighted a harsh reality for Italy:
"Italy’s population is aging and shrinking at the fastest rate in the West, forcing the country to adapt to a booming population of elderly that puts it at the forefront of a global demographic trend that experts call the 'silver tsunami.' But it faces a demographic double whammy, with a drastically sinking birthrate that is among the lowest in Europe."
The article went on to point out, "The reality of the gray new world poses a make-or-break test for Italy, making it a laboratory for many Western countries with aging populations, some experts said."
It won't be long before the United States faces a similar problem because America's demographics are trending in the same direction. I've previously written about the impact Boomers have on the country's workforce. Between 2008 and the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers 55 and older were responsible for 98 percent of the growth of the U.S. labor market. The current situation, however, is very different. Considerably more than half of the approximately 3,5 million people missing from America's labor market today are older workers who have retired.
Despite those who have chosen to retire, a good portion of older workers still want to continue to work. In fact, by 2030, about 25 percent of America's workforce is expected to be 55 years of age or older. The bad news is that as these workers age, employers will have to accommodate them when it comes to health issues.
Whether Boomers are in or out of the workforce, we will place a burden the health system as we age. Today, 35 percent of U.S. healthcare spending is on people 65 years of age and older. In addition to depending on Medicare as our primary health insurance, Boomers will be drawing on Social Security. We'll also increasingly need living situations that are conducive to aging -- whether it's products and services to help us age in place, congregate living facilities that assist us with the tasks of daily living or skilled nursing facilities that provide an even higher level of care.
Globally, numerous countries are seeing significant increases in their elderly populations. For now, the American version of the silver tsunami may not appear to be as ominous as the challenge faced by Italy -- but there is no question that it is coming.
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