The Graying of Tennessee

Look around you. Have you noticed seeing more gray than several years ago? You actually have.

Forget Senior Citizens. We’re Mature Adults

The fastest growing segment of the population here in Tennessee and more particularly, in Knox County is those over 65 years of age. When we were younger, we referred to them as Senior citizens. Now as many of us enter that age group we prefer to be called mature adults.

By 2030, one out of every four people in this area will be in this age group. Did you ever think that would happen?

Three factors are leading to this growing segment of our population.

  • First, the Baby Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964. The first of these people turned 65 in 2011. From then until 2029 10,000 Baby Boomers have turned or will turn 65 every day.
  • Second, people are living longer. Advances in Medicine have really increased longevity. People are living to a much older age.
  • Third, Tennessee and especially Knox County are very desirable places to live. More retirees are moving here to take advantage of the quality of life we offer.

What are These Mature Adults Like? What do They Want From Life?

Age 65 and beyond doesn’t mean it’s time to sit back in an easy chair and watch others do things. Baby Boomers have a desire to stay active.

  • Some have no intention of retiring and will continue to work as long as they can.
  • Some will expand their knowledge and take classes to learn things that interest them.
  • Others will get involved doing things they like and will volunteer to serve.
  • Many look forward to spending more time with their grandkids. They will move closer to them so they can see them more frequently.
  • Still others have a desire to travel and will take trips more frequently.

This group is feisty. Fiercely independent, they prefer to do things their way. One great desire is to live by themselves as long as possible.

Quality of life and health are important to them. They have seen how health problems affected others and have no desire for this to happen to them. So they exercise regularly. They eat healthier foods. They have regular health check-ups and follow their doctor’s advice more closely.

Avoid Loneliness at All Costs

One objective of theirs is to avoid loneliness. They have seen too many instances where parents seem to have been forgotten by their families. At the same time, they saw their parents and extended family members lose friends as they age. The older those closest to them got it seemed less people spent time with them. Loneliness grew. Any time someone said hello, they would welcome the opportunity talk with them as long as possible. Their goal is to not let this happen to them.

In the back of their minds they realize at some point they may no longer be able to care for themselves and live independently. At that point they may have to move into a retirement center, an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Their hope is to delay this as long as possible and to minimize their length of stay.

The Office on Aging salutes these mature adults. We were created to help them. We have many different programs. We also work with many different community organizations who also help. If you want to know more about what we offer, please check out our website at or call 865-524-2786.