Across most of central Appalachia, the population is declining as young people leave to find work. Those who stay, are rapidly aging. In West Virginia, for instance, about 16 percent of the population is 65 or older, according to a Department of Health and Human Resources report. Seniors are expected to be about a quarter of the total population by 2030.
This trend affects a majority of the counties in Appalachia, according to a 2018 report by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The study concluded that while younger people are moving to cities, rural areas throughout our region will continue to see an increase in elderly population.