A few weeks ago, I wrote about a blog exploring population shifts in the inner ring suburbs of Cleveland using the recently released 2020 American Community Survey data. Comparing the 5-year estimates from 2010 and 2020, a trend emerged among all but one of the suburbs; the population of older adults is increasing while the number of younger residents is decreasing. Unsurprisingly, this trend is also observed in the outer ring suburbs.
Only Beachwood, Seven Hills and Mayfield Heights saw a decrease in the percent of older adults in their community between the years of 2010 and 2020. The remainder of communities had a higher percentage of older adults in 2020 than in 2010.
Among the outer ring suburbs that have total populations over one thousand residents, only Beachwood, Seven Hills and Mayfield Heights saw a decrease in the percent of older adults in their community between the years of 2010 and 2020. The remainder of communities had a higher percentage of older adults in 2020 than in 2010.
Measuring the decrease in population under 65 and the increase in population 65 and older
There are two reasons the percentage of older adults could increase in a community; the total number of older adults could be increasing or the total number of younger people could be decreasing. As with the inner ring suburbs of Cleveland, both of these things are happening in the outer ring suburbs as well.
With the exception of Pepper Pike, Olmsted Township, Mayfield Heights (which increased in population under 65) and Beachwood and Seven Hills (which had no change in under 65 population) all of the outer ring suburbs included in the analysis saw both an increase in older adults and a decrease in residents younger than sixty-five between the years of 2010 and 2020.
Outer suburbs have aged more quickly than inner ring peers
One difference between the inner and outer ring suburbs is that the outer suburbs have aged more quickly than Cleveland and the inner ring suburbs. In 2010, 68% of the outer ring suburbs already had higher percentage of population aged 65 and over than the county. Moreland Hills and Olmsted Falls both saw large increases in the share of older adults in the past ten years moving them from the middle (Moreland) and low end (Olmsted) of the list to the high end. The older adult population in Olmsted Falls increased from an estimated 997 to 1,762 residents between 2010 and 2020 and Moreland Hills jumped from an estimated 550 to 967 residents in the same timeframe.
In 2010, 68% of the outer ring suburbs already had higher percentage of population aged 65 and over than the county.
Interestingly, Beachwood actually saw a decrease in the percentage of older adults, but still maintains the distinction of having the highest percentage of older adults among all of the suburban communities with 30.9 percent in 2020. For the past ten years, Walton Hills, Seven Hills, Mayfield Heights and Lyndhurst have all had more than a quarter of their population consist of residents aged 65 and over. As other communities’ edge toward increased share of older adults in their communities they can look to neighboring communities for guidance on how to shift resources to meet the needs
With populations decreasing across the county, looking at age group changes can help identify how the population is shifting and what that means for a community. Cuyahoga County has recently joined the AARP network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. As part the network, the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services with support from the Western Reserve Area Office on Aging will be assessing the needs of older adults throughout the county. This assessment will provide the opportunity to explore how communities in Cuyahoga County have adapted to the changing demographics and what additional resources are needed.