Vulnerable Populations


Both the very young and the very old are likely to be medically vulnerable. Adults over age 65 are more likely to encounter diseases related to aging, such as Alzheimer's disease, or more advanced chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. They are also more likely to suffer from multiple conditions, and may have mobility issues that impede access to care.

Young people are likely to be medically vulnerable, too, but for different reasons. Minority youth and those who live in poverty often have limited access to quality care, healthy food or opportunities for recreation and physical activity. Poor health habits and outcomes in early years can lead to life-long health problems.

The older adult population is increasing, and will continue to grow substantially over the next three decades.

Like the rest of the United States, the region is at the beginning of a surge in numbers of older adults. The population over age 65 is expected to double over the next three decades. This growth will put added pressure on the entire health care system in terms of demand for services, the types of services needed, and cost of services.

Since 2000, every county except Wyandotte has seen a significant growth in the percent of its population over age 65. (Both Allen and Wyandotte had slight declines in absolute numbers of persons over age 65.) The region's rural counties have higher concentrations of older adults as a percent of total population.

In absolute numbers, Johnson County has seen by far the largest growth in this age group, accounting for almost 43 percent of the regional total.

Total Population Age 65 and Older
  2000 2015 Change
Cass 9,636 15,023 +5,387
Clay 19,848 28,412 +8,564
Jackson 81,981 90,012 +8,031
Lafayette 5,079 5,771 +692
Platte 6,505 11,621 +5,116
Ray 2,994 3,749 +755
Allen 2,593 2,459 -134
Johnson 45,069 69,122 +24,053
Leavenworth 6,766 9,599 +2,833
Miami 3,378 4,780 +1,402
Wyandotte 18,520 17,785 -735

Source: U.S. Census, 2000 and U.S. Census ACS 5-year Data, 2015

Just over 25 percent of the region's population is under 18, and a rapidly growing percentage of this group are minorities.

Youth comprise 25.1 percent of the region's population — compared to 23.3 percent nationally — with a fairly evenly distribution across the counties. Although the number of youth in the region grew by 34,248 from 2000 to 2015 (with the greatest growth in Johnson and Clay counties), this group has declined as a percent of overall population in every county, as other age groups grew faster.

The composition of our youth population is changing. In 1980, 21 percent of the population under 18 were minorities; in 2015, 36.4 percent are minorities, and that number is expected to rise to more than 45 percent by 2040. Since minorities are often more medically vulnerable, this increase in young people of color may impact both short- and long-term health and health care.

Population Under Age 18 by Race/Ethnicity, 2015
  White* Black* Other* Hispanic
Cass 22,947 1,028 1,691 1,745
Clay 46,991 3,666 7,287 5,433
Jackson 93,130 46,240 25,073 22,449
Lafayette 7,108 92 647 344
Platte 18,538 1,700 2,173 1,870
Ray 5,118 130 218 215
Allen 2,764 38 270 141
Johnson 120,450 7,202 17,549 15,883
Leavenworth 15,673 1,101 2,343 1,689
Miami 7,973 111 372 420
Wyandotte 26,030 1,1064 8,237 17,238

Source: U.S. Census ACS 5-year Data, 2015


The median age (in 2015) of the non-white population is lower than that of whites, with significant variation across races and ethnicities.

A higher percentage of young people live in poverty than the population as a whole, and the numbers are growing.

The percentage of youth under age 18 in the Kansas City region who live in poverty has grown in every county from 2000 to 2015, and is substantially higher in most counties.


Data is the most current available as of September 2017.

Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | ©