WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than 57 million people in the United States are over the age of 65. By 2040, that number is expected to grow to over 80 million. 

To help prepare for the increase, federal lawmakers have introduced legislation to ensure states are well-equipped to care for a generation that has given so much to their country. 

“These are folks who have given our country so much. They fought our wars, they worked in our factories, they taught our children, they built the greatest economy in the world,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D- PA). 

Sen. Casey says states sometimes lack the resources for a comprehensive aging plan for the future. That’s why he has teamed up with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to introduce the Strategic Plan for Aging Act. 

The bill would create a new, nationwide grant program under the Older Americans Act (OAA) to incentivize and support state-based aging initiatives. Up to 65 grants in a five-year span would be available to states, territories and tribal organizations. Each grant could be worth up to $500,000. 

“So, it's really dollars to invest at the state level so they can do the strategic planning,” said Casey. 

That type of strategic planning is crucial in states like Pennsylvania, where roughly one-fourth of residents are over the age of 65.  

“Pennsylvania has the fifth largest population of older adults. We'll make a shift very soon to one-in-three Pennsylvanians who are over the age of 60,” said Jason Kavulich, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. 

Secretary Kavulich says the Strategic Plan for Aging Act would enhance Pennsylvania’s existing framework, like the Aging Our Way, PA plan, to achieve the state’s ultimate goal.  

"Which is to make sure people can age in place, age well and age with the dignity that they deserve,” said Kavulich. “This bill will enhance that work tremendously.” 

The bill could be game changing for states that might not have as comprehensive of an aging plan like Pennsylvania does. 

“I know colleagues in other states that want to see this happen in their communities. And this will give them the support that they need to give them the resources that they need to make it real,” said Kavulich. 

“All communities can be more age friendly, can be more dementia friendly, can recognize this opportunity that is presented by this massive demographic shift,” said Amy Gotwals, the Chief of Public Policy and External Affairs at USAging, the national association representing and supporting the network of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). “This is a federal response to some innovation happening in various states and catching on quickly.” 

Gotwals says AAAs need funding to continue providing essential services to seniors across America. She believes the Strategic Plan for Aging Act will help AAAs continue to do what they do best and that it is a step forward to ensure every state is prepared for the demographic shift. 

“It’s a massive transition. We knew it was coming with the baby boomers. It's been time, it’s been long overdue. There is not one state that is untouched by the aging of the population,” said Gotwals.