Finish writing that book! Transcribe those minutes! Do the layout for several folders! Bake a pie, go grocery shopping and don’t forget the laundromat! And that’s just the beginning.

When I start feeling sorry for myself and wonder how I’m going to do all I want to do in the next few years, I just have to refer to the last census report. The 2010 census has information that makes me feel there are decades ahead of me – not just years.

Don’t expect miracles, though – these predictions of longer lives don’t do a thing for the graying hair, the wrinkles or the squinting to see the small print on medicine labels. (That print really is getting smaller, isn’t it?)

Politicians, policy makers and planners should take note of some of the census numbers because those white-haired old-timers are getting to be a voting group to be reckoned with.

In 1980 there were 720,000 people 90 or older in the United States. In 2010, this number had grown to 1.9 million. Predictions are that by 2050, there may be 9 million.

“With the aging boom it is critical to develop demographic data providing as detailed a picture as possible of our oldest population,” said National Institute on Aging Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “The information on a variety of factors – income, health status, disabilities and living arrangements – will be particularly useful to researchers, planners and policymakers.”

Here’s what a survey says using the census data reports about the population that is 90 and over:

• Most of them are widowed white women, living alone or in a nursing home;

• Most are high school graduates;

• Social Security provides half their income;

• Many of them have some kind of mobility disability;

• They can expect to live another 4.6 years;

• Women outnumber men 3:1;

• In this age group, a woman’s income averaged $13,580

• In this age group, a man’s income averaged $20,133

So it appears that if all goes according to predictions, the movers and shakers in our society need to start paying attention to the fastest-growing segment of the population. Is it possible the multi-town school complexes will be constructed with an eye to the future when elders will outnumber youngers? Already in my hometown, a comparison of a 50-year span (1950-2000) shows that in the 1950s, almost 50 percent of the population was school age – and that percentage has seriously declined.

We can talk all we want about infrastructure and redesigning areas of our towns, but if plans aren’t made to accommodate the older generation – housing, transportation, amenities in shopping areas – we won’t have to worry about the younger generation leaving the state. We’ll see an exodus of older, tax-paying responsible adults seeking a place and opportunity that’s friendly to seniors. Someplace where they don’t have to scratch out a living – somewhere they can actually retire.

If you’re in pretty good health now, chances are you’ll be around for a good spell. Time to contact the policy makers and get some improvements and changes in the works for your future and that of your younger relatives. They’ll probably live to be 100.

Kay Soldier welcomes reader ideas for column topics of interest to seniors. She can be reached by email at [email protected], or write to 114 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062.

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