Johnson County aging, becoming more diverse

A local hospital has bought multiple assisted living facilities to offer more services to an aging population, and schools and libraries are reaching out to help new residents who have recently moved to the U.S.

Johnson County is aging, while also becoming more diverse.

According to new Census estimates, the county’s median age increased from 36.9 in 2010 to 37.4 in 2015. And while all age groups grew in population, the group of residents older than age 65 is the only one that increased in the percentage of the total population — from 12 percent in 2010 to 14 percent in 2015.

The numbers also show that Johnson County is becoming more diverse. In 2010, white residents made up about 92 per- cent of the county’s overall race groups. Five years later, that number had dropped to about 90 percent, with growth in residents who are black, Asian and Hispanic, according to the Census data.

Both trends are being seen across the state and nation, as the baby boomers age and as new residents move into communities, said Matt Kinghorn, Indiana Business Research Center demographer.

The younger population statewide is becoming more diverse, with 72 percent of Hoosiers under age 18 being white, compared to 83 percent of those over age 18, he said.

For communities, that often means offering more services to those growing populations, he said.

In Johnson County, schools have continued to find ways to educate children whose first language is not English, and multiple groups, from libraries to the Central Nine Career Center, are offering classes and programs to adults learning English. Enrollment in those programs has continually grown in recent years.

An aging population also requires more services, from housing to health care, Kinghorn said.

Johnson Memorial Health has been tracking data on the county’s aging population for years, and their projections show it will continue to grow for at least the next five to 10 years, president and chief executive officer Larry Heydon said.

At the same time, the health network also is trying to address the needs of Johnson County’s overall growth, he said.

In the next year, they plan to open two new physicians offices along U.S. 31, in Whiteland and Greenwood.

Those doctors will be able to serve all patients, but one focus area is recruiting internal medicine doctors, who often serve seniors, he said.

In addition, Johnson Memorial Health has been acquiring assisted living facilities across the state over the last few years, which gives patients a place to go when they no longer need to stay at the hospital, but aren’t ready to return home, he said.

“Hospitals are being asked to address all care — before admission, during admission and post discharge,” he said.

By acquiring nursing homes, Johnson Memorial is able to offer a full range of care options, he said.

And the hospital has also been making changes to its campus to make it easier to get in and out, which also is targeted at serving a growing population, including seniors, Heydon said.

“All (the data) has helped us confirm we need to continue to strengthen our current services, do anything we can do for our senior and general population,” Heydon said.

Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.