Rising Median Age Supports Need for PACE Growth in Rural Counties

“We’re not getting any younger.” Thus starts the article in the Raleigh News and Observer. Census data shows that North Carolina is now tied with Kentucky as the 22nd oldest state in the nation, as our median age continues to creep up. 

The entire state is aging, but not equally. Rural counties, especially those in northeastern and western North Carolina, are considerably older than their urban counterparts. In at least one case – Brunswick County – this is due primarily to an influx of retirees, but in too many other counties, it is the result of young people leaving for economic opportunities elsewhere. Regardless of the reason, it demonstrates a growing need for elderly services in these areas. 

The map in the article demonstrates this disparity in vivid color. Unfortunately, these are primarily the counties which do not have PACE.  If we could overlay the PACE service area map on the census map, it would show that very few of the “oldest” counties are served by PACE. 

The so-called “silver tsunami” has been building since the first baby-boomers were born, yet efforts to address the impending crisis – especially for lower income elderly – still fall woefully short. The North Carolina PACE Association continues its efforts to bring the much needed services of PACE into these aging rural counties and to grow our capacity in urban areas as well.