Interestingly the fastest growing segment of the American population is the oldest old, the 85+ group, and this is before the baby boomers become "senior boomers" and they won't begin to reach 85+ until 2030.
But here's also where the stereotypes don't play out. Even though more people are living longer, only 5% of the oldest-old wind up in nursing homes. People tend to live healthier and die faster even though they are living longer. This phenomenon even has a name. The gerontologists call it "compression of morbidity" by which they mean that old folks only experience a few years of major illness before it kills them at the end of their lives.
70% of the oldest-old are women who are single because they are widowed, divorced, or were never married. Almost 20% of the oldest old live near or below the poverty line. (There are fewer oldest-old living in poverty than previously because of Social Security)
The number of centenarians also is growing. In 2000 it was estimated that there were about 70,000 people in the United States who were 100+. By 2030, it is estimated that the number will more than quadruple to about 324,000.
As this part of the population continues to expand what will be the new social roles these people will play in our society? They are vital, creative, wise, with many years of life experience. This may be one of the biggest changes our society has ever seen since the baby boomers were born and brought us the 60s. These baby boomers are becoming the senior boomers and will be bringing us the teens, the 20s, and the 30s.