Ohio’s ‘oldest old’ a growing part of society

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OXFORD, Ohio – The median age of Ohioans in 2000 was 36, compared to 33 years old in 1990, according to a study by the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University.

In comparing data from the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census reports, researchers created a chart called “Aging in Ohio” that lists the changes in population of Ohioans aged 65-74, 75-84 and 85 and over for each of the state’s 88 counties.

The age boom. Among their findings: The increase in the proportion of Ohio residents aged 65 and older is 7.2 percent.

As Scripps researchers have predicted, there is a decline in population among the “youngest old,” 65-74 years old, of 4.6 percent but increases among 75-84-year-olds of 22.6 percent and among the “oldest old,” 85 and older, of 28.1 percent.

“The fact that the greatest amount of growth is occurring among the ‘oldest old’ has significant implications for health policy and planning and for long-term care services,” says Suzanne Kunkel, director of Scripps.

“It’s also important to keep in mind that this growth rate is just a taste of what will happen when baby boomers all reach those age groups.”

Urban centers. The rise in elderly populations is substantial in the state’s urban centers.

For example in Cuyahoga County, there was a 33.4 percent increase in the number of residents age 85 or older from 1990 to 2000. The county’s median age rose from 34 to 37. Interestingly, the county’s overall elderly population (age 65 and older), slipped 1.8 percent.

In Franklin County, the 65+ age grouping rose 12.6 percent, with the 85 and older bracket increasing 27.6 percent.

In Hamilton and Montgomery counties, the median age rose from 32 to 36, but while Hamilton County (Cincinnati) saw a marginal drop in the 65+ crowd (-1.3 percent), Montgomery County (Dayton) saw that age category increase 6.5 percent.

Both counties had substantial increases in the 85 and older population; 21 percent in Hamilton County; 26.6 percent in Montgomery.

In Summit County, the median age rose to 37 from 34, and its age 85+ population rose 25.6 percent between 1990 and 2000.

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