Boca Raton is a city of 84,392 (according to the 2010 census) in Palm Beach County, Florida. Boca Raton featured a significant population boom starting in the 1920’s and now finds itself home to an aging population that finds nearly 50-percent of its residents over the age of 45.
The aging population in Boca Raton is cause for concern not only for continued growth in the region but also due to increased health care costs for the region as well as a disproportionately high number serious mental health concerns such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or depression. Just like any other area with an aging population, Boca Raton has a higher than national average rate for dementia patients – categorized as a degenerative condition that causes long term loss of the ability to think, speak, and reason. In fact, Boca Raton has the highest number of dementia patients in the state of Florida. In addition, as the nationwide average of Alzheimer’s (a form of dementia) instances goes down, Boca Raton is reporting year-over-year growth in the number of confirmed cases.
With only approximately 30-percent of the Boca Raton’s population falling within the societal norm for starting a family (18 to 44 years of age) and less than 8% of the population being under 18, these numbers start to paint a picture of population decline and increases in the total cost of health care for the region. Due to this, the numbers of mental health diagnoses will – statistically speaking – continue to rise with it. The reason for this is two-fold.
One, the brain ages just as any other part of the body does, and often times mental health begins to fade just as other organs – such as the heart or lungs – would.
Two, the decrease in overall health often brings mental health problems such as depression. This phenomenon has been researched by numerous organizations and the findings are overwhelmingly in the favor of physical health having a major impact on mental health and vice versa. For example, older adults with physical health conditions such as liver disease have statistically significant increases in rates of stress, anxiety and depression. Conversely, untreated depression, stress or anxiety can wreak havoc on mental function or blood pressure.
Boca Raton is a retirement haven that features a median age of 43, as opposed to a median age of 35 for the rest of the United States. While statistically significant, those who live in Boca Raton are afforded the luxury of some of the best healthcare in all of the United States and this leads to a higher than average lifespan in comparison to the rest of Florida, as well as the United States as a whole. This number is quite impressive due to Florida as a whole ranking 49th in the United States in mental health services.