Building Strategies to Address the Silver Wave

Did you know that the fastest growing age cohort in the U.S. is adults aged 65 and older?

Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of the country’s population aged 65 and older grew by just over 15%, and is expected to grow even faster in the coming years. Within that group of older adults, the subgroup of the very old (85 and older) is growing faster than the group as a whole. The states with the fastest growing older adult populations between 2000 and 2010 include:

  1. Alaska 53.9%
  2. Nevada 48.2%
  3. Idaho 33.4%
  4. Colorado 32.1%
  5. Arizona 32.0%
  6. Georgia 31.4%
  7. Utah 31.1%
  8. South Carolina 30.2%
  9. New Mexico 28.3%
  10. North Carolina 27.3%

It is estimated that, between 2000 and 2030, New Mexico will move from being 39th to being 4th in the U.S. in the ratio of older adults to the state’s total population. In that time, the total number of older adults in the state will double. (Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Agency on Aging, Con Alma Health Foundation. For more information about aging in New Mexico, see Con Alma’s website,

It is critical that communities begin now build strategies to address the “Silver Wave.” Communities need to develop a plan for older adult services. Many of those retiring now do not have the base of assets that their parents, the WWII generation, built over the years.  And, community services for older adults are already “maxed out” in many localities. Consider the impact of trying to serve many more people in another five, ten or twenty years.

Most communities are not prepared to respond effectively to the increasing level of older adult needs now, much less cope with an increased level of need that the future holds in store. And, because many states and municipalities are faced with budget challenges, community and state leaders need to be able to create plans that can leverage resources in new, more productive and innovative ways.

Building strategies to address the Silver Wave

Here are some things that most communities can and should be doing this year and over the coming years to be prepared for the “Silver Wave.”

  • Start or build upon your discussion among community leaders, and continue to develop interest and support for this issue.
  • Ensure that current and projected older adult needs, services, and gaps are included in all community plans, including health, housing, transportation, and economic development plans.
  • Engage community agencies, businesses, local government groups, initiatives, faith communities and civic groups in a discussion about the growing needs of older adults and involve these groups in discussing creative ways to develop and fund resources.
  • Develop your community plan, with goals for older adult services, priorities, implementation strategies, and a timeline.
  • Analyze a range of funding options for priority services, and build a funding plan that identifies a diversified base of revenues and leverages current community assets.

Involve the community in an ongoing discussion, while working with specific government offices, nonprofit agencies and expert groups. This will enable you to engage a large base of stakeholders, build interest and commitment, and develop more creative solutions. It is possible to develop effective plans and breakthrough solutions using a combination of simulation games and a group process that engages people in “out-of-the-box” thinking, enabling groups to focus on innovative ways to build services and funding.

For more information about building strategies to address the Silver Wave, and to read more about how to build and fund effective community plans for older adult services, go to

New Ventures has helped agencies, communities and community initiatives to develop breakthrough thinking that builds and funds services. Anne has worked in many states in the U.S., and with a wide range of communities and service networks using simulation games and her breakthrough planning methods. Contact her to discuss the “Silver Wave” simulation and planning process.

Anne Hays Egan, Principal of New Ventures Consulting
Nonprofits Online
EzineArticles Expert Author
Building Strategies to Address the Silver Wave:  August 13, 2014