It’s no secret that the senior living industry is exploding in the U.S., but U.S.-based senior living operators are now expanding overseas in countries like China. The Seattle Times reports that Seattle-based senior living companies such as Cascade Healthcare and Merrill Gardens are spreading their wings and opening senior living communities in places like China, where senior living communities like those found in the U.S. are not widespread.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million by 2050, representing the impact of a period of rapid growth between 2012 and 2050. In fact, the 83.7 million figure is nearly double the estimated 65+ population in 2012: 43.1 million.”The baby boomers are largely responsible for this increase in the older population, as they began turning 65 in 2011. By 2050, the surviving baby boomers will be over the age of 85,” according to the U.S. Census report.
But the U.S. is not the only country experiencing rapid growth in its aging population. In China, 9.4 percent of the population is 65 or older, or about 132 million people. By 2050, the U.N. estimates that 22.7 percent of China’s population, or 332 million people, will be age 65 or older. China’s economy, however, is still under development, and the country does not currently have a strong system in place for long-term elder care.
Not only is China looking to companies like Cascade Healthcare and Merrill Gardens to fill gaps in long-term care, but also as a means to learn models and managerial practices from successful U.S. operators. Eventually, China-based companies will likely enter the market building on the concepts introduced by U.S. senior living operators, while incorporating cultural values unique to China.
The growth of the aging population in the U.S. isn’t slowing down, but the U.S. is not alone in the mounting challenge of ensuring adequate long-term care options for the elderly. With the aging population experiencing explosive growth in many countries through 2050, senior living providers have abundant opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad to serve the needs of older adults.