Improving Quality of Life

Quality of life can be improved when we build communities that are supportive for people of all ages and encourage active community participation and healthy and sustainable lifestyles for older residents.

Between 2010 and 2025, the number of adults ages 65 and older in North Dakota is expected to grow by 52 percent. In 1980, older adults were 12 percent of the state's population. By 2025, they are expected to be 18 percent of the state's population. In 2011, the leading edge of the Baby Boomers (Americans born between 1946 and 1964) began to turn 65 years old. As the Baby Boom generation ages, this dramatic demographic shift will affect our state’s workforce, health and human services agencies, and beyond. A desire to maintain good health, social connections, and sufficient financial resources are and will continue to be priorities for many older residents and their families.

What's happening

  • Recognizing levels and types of disability is critical for planning services and understanding the scope of caregiving needs in our region. In North Dakota, in 2022, less than one in three older adults (age 65 and older) had one or more disabilities (30.6%) less than the national average of 33.1 percent.
  • During the 2018-to-2022-time frame, disability rates among American Indian older adults were higher than for White (non-Hispanic) older adults in North Dakota (42.8% and 31.1%, respectively).
  • Many older adults across North Dakota are engaged in their communities. Statewide, 36.1 percent of older adults volunteered in 2021, as compared to the national average of 23.4 percent.
  • Median income in 2022 for households headed by an older adult (older than 65 years) was $56,319 The median household income for population in this age group increased by $5,372 from 2021 to 2022.

Making connections

Energy development in the western part of North Dakota is leading to population growth in some areas of the state, and demographic shifts across the state. Due to these demographic shifts, the proportion of older adults is not expected to reach as high of levels as previously projected. However, the older adult population in North Dakota has grown and will continue to do so in the coming years.

People today are living longer than they have in the past. Yet, health remains a concern for older adults. As residents age, costly chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, affect larger proportions of our residents; therefore, it is important to promote healthy behaviors for residents of all ages to maintain well-being in later years. With increasing age also comes increased likelihood of disability.  Communities need to adapt to allow older adults to age in place, including providing accessible housing, dependable and affordable transportation options, and efficient delivery of services.

The proportion of older adults in the workforce continues to increase compared to previous generations as health has improved at older ages and jobs have become less physically demanding. In addition, the educational attainment level of older adults has increased.

It is important to promote civic engagement among older adults. Research demonstrates that older volunteers are the most likely to receive physical and mental health benefits from their volunteer activities. 


Janis Cheney: AARP - Discover Your Possibilities

"Times have changed dramatically over the last half-century, and there is increasing recognition that our hopes, dreams, goals, and desires need not be limited by age. We recognize that as we grow older, our possibilities for financial security, good health, meaningful work, discovery, and living life to the fullest should not be limited or reduced, they must be ageless."

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North Dakota Compass

Center for Social Research
North Dakota State University

Compass created by:
Wilder Research

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