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Area Towns Going Gray

Forget about going "green." Now that the baby boom generation has begun turning 60, area towns are definitely going "gray." Mendon, Milford and Upton all showed double-digit percentage gains over the past 10 years for residents who are 60 or older.

Last month, John Belding of the Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging gave a presentation in Milford showing the results of the federal 2010 Census. "You're going to see increased demand for services in those towns that have grown over the past 20 years," he said, listing the 2000-2010 population changes as:

• Mendon grew by 10.5 percent overall, with a 54.4 percent increase in those age 60 and up

• Milford grew by 4.5 percent overall, with a 16.8 percent increase in those age 60 and up

• Upton grew by 33.7 percent overall, with a 70.7 percent in those age 60 and up

The population in towns along the Route I-495 corridor has grown because of the availability of jobs in the region and the cost of living and housing being lower than the area closer to Boston, Belding explained. Now, that increased local population is "aging in place," he commented.

The trends also show senior parents moving to the suburbs to be closer, or to live with, their younger children, Belding explained. Other trends from the census show urban centers and mill towns having the slowest growth and a doubling of the minority elder population moving from central cities to suburbs where their family members live, he said.

The baby boom generation will remain a "bulge" in the age demographics as it ages, Belding explained, with the 60-plus population within central Massachusetts to be one third larger in 2020 than it is today. Looking ahead, though, the population trends show that we should see little or no increase in the age 85-plus population and only a slight increase in the age 75-plus population, he said.

"Seventy-eight and up is when you see people start to need significant assistance from families or institutions," commented Laura Black-Silver of the Tri-Valley, Inc. elder services agency.


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