More Henderson County residents are in their senior years than a decade ago, and the numbers will continue to climb according to the Texas Demographic Center.
Census data due this year will determine if the estimates prove true, but based on statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, state agencies and local governments, TDC has published populations from previous counts and future projections.
Henderson County had a 65-and-older population in 2011 of 15,448. That had grown to 18,802 by 2021. That segment of the population accounted for more growth than the county as a whole. The overall county population grew from 78,819 in 2011 to 81,369 in 2021.
While a portion of the growth of seniors can be attributed to the aging of its residents, another factor is retirees choosing Henderson County as a retirement destination. The county has three Texas Department of Agriculture Retirement Communities, Athens, Chandler and Gun Barrel City. According to the TDA website, Athens is an ideal spot for retirees because, “Athens has the aura of a small town yet is close enough to enjoy the offerings of big cities like Tyler, only 35 miles to the east, and Dallas, just 75 miles to the northwest.”
Gun Barrel City and Chandler are also close to medical facilities and are within an hour drive of the amenities of larger cities.
The Athens Economic Development Corporation began looking into attaining retirement community status for the city in 2006, soon after the program was created.
One other demographic that has been growing is county residents nearing the century mark in age.
In 2011, the county had 113 residents age 95 and above. At mid-decade, 2015, the total was 119. The number in 2020 had grown to 141. The Demographic Center projection shows there will be 198 in that age group by 2030.
United States Census Bureau figures from 2019 show Henderson County, with a 22.4% share of the population 65 and older is well above the national 16.5% mark. Athens is slightly above the national rate at 18.2.
The city of Athens skews much younger than the county as a whole. While 30.1% of Athens residents are age 18 and under, that segment of the county population is 21.3%.