What does the ‘graying of St. Louis’ mean? By 2045, 1 in 4 people in the metro area will be 65+ | St. Louis Public Radio

What does the ‘graying of St. Louis’ mean? By 2045, 1 in 4 people in the metro area will be 65+

May 11, 2016

By 2045, one in four people in the St. Louis metro area will be older than 65. That means there will be more than 290,000 people in that age group — a 75 percent increase, compared to today.

Without context, some of the statistics that have come to light regarding East-West Gateway Council of Governments’ Where We Stand study on seniors and aging in the St. Louis region are startling.

What’s the story behind these statistics? What are the implications of “the graying of St. Louis”? On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, three guests joined the program to discuss what these changing population dynamics mean for the St. Louis area:

  • Mary Rocchio, manager of Regional Policy Research, East-West Gateway Council of Governments
  • Lori Fiegel, director of the Office of Strategy and Innovation, St. Louis County
  • Geneva Powell, vice chair, Shepherd’s Center Board

St. Louis County, for example, has “more baby boomers and residents of the great and silent generation than any other county in the state of Missouri,” said Lori Fiegel, the director of the Office of Strategy and Innovation for St. Louis County. Her office is responsible for a new “Age-Friendly Community” initiative, which seeks to establish a better community for aging residents in three years.

"We can look at the aging population differently than a burden or a problem," Fiegel said. “There’s a lot of opportunity around the aging of the population that people don’t think about.”

"We can look at the aging population differently than a burden or a problem."

AARP’s Longevity Economy study found that 46 percent of the gross national product can be attributed to adults age 50 and older, half of all startups come from people between the ages of 50-64 and the greatest amount of philanthropy comes from older adults.

By the same token, there are a lot of service issues to figure out in the coming years — particularly in the realms of public transit, health care and housing for seniors.

While seniors often have a larger safety net than younger people, with resources such as Medicare and Social Security, there are specific populations of seniors who are considered “vulnerable:” women who live alone, renters and African-Americans. Specific initiatives in the county are being tailored to better take care of these groups of people.

There are many groups in the St. Louis area that are seeking to fill the gap in services for seniors. Here are three we talked about on the program:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.