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President Trump tours hurricane-ravaged parts of Florida. Also on the Tuesday rundown: We examine whether the U.S. spending too much to guard confederate cemeteries; and the spotlight is on mental health during National Children’s Health Month.

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Study Shows Hike in VA, U.S. Elderly Population

Nearly one in three adults age 75 or older lives alone, according to AARP. A new report points to the high cost of assisted living as one potential reason. (Pixabay)
Nearly one in three adults age 75 or older lives alone, according to AARP. A new report points to the high cost of assisted living as one potential reason. (Pixabay)
September 21, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. – People are living longer, in Virginia and the United States as a whole – but a new report says the trend comes with major healthcare challenges.

The AARP research predicts the 85-plus population will triple by 2050. This foreshadows a greater need for assisted living, which the report notes many Virginia families can't afford.

The average nursing-care facility with a private room costs close to $95,000 dollars a year in Virginia, which ranks in the less-pricey bottom half of states, nationally. Assisted living is around $54,000 a year, which ranks 11th.

For Wendy Fox-Grage, senior strategic policy advisor with the AARP Public Policy Institute and a co-author of the "Across the States" study, the statistics indicate one surefire trend.

"You're going to see, over time, less caregivers per person who needs care," says Fox-Grage.

The study predicts the population under age 65 will flat-line in comparison, rising by only about 12 percent by 2050.

The Virginia Assisted Living Association says it's in the midst of a construction boom for new communities. As for the cost of care, the group says it's been lobbying lawmakers to provide additional funding to help offset those costs.

Virginia doesn't have a Medicaid waiver for assisted living, which means seniors have to pay out-of-pocket or through an auxiliary grant from Social Security. That's only about $1,200 a month, for care that averages $3,000 per month.

As a positive, the Commonwealth is below the national average for elderly people living at the poverty level, and it ranks fifth in the U.S. for median household income for those over 65. But Fox-Grage says policymakers need to prepare for what some call the "Silver Tsunami."

"Putting in policies and programs in place to better serve Virginians who needs these types of services and their family caregivers," she adds.

The study also shows a key demographic trend. The white population over 65 is expected to be around 61 percent by 2050, compared to the 77 percent it is now.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA