The Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C., characterizes an impending demographic shift in America as an “age tsunami.” The population of seniors (age 65 and over) will begin to mushroom as the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation turns 65 in 2011. As it has aged, this unique generation has transformed the nation’s institutions and economy, from schools to the stock market, and now Boomers’ impending senior-hood is likely to have important implications for real estate development of senior housing and retirement communities.

So far, the leading edge of the Boomers are growing in and moving to many of the same metro areas as seniors — places in the southern and western U.S., such as Provo, UT, Raleigh, NC, Austin, TX and Atlanta, GA. Brookings experts expect impending Boomer seniors to primarily choose to live in suburbs rather than central cities. Below are the top 10 metro areas with the fastest-growing senior population so far this decade, and the top 10 metro areas with the fastest-growing population of older Boomers (ages 55 to 64):

Metro area

Senior population (65+) growth, 2000-08

Provo, UT

42.0%

Raleigh, NC

38.6%

Austin, TX

36.7%

Atlanta, GA

36.2%

Boise, ID

35.7%

Orlando, FL

33.3%

Las Vegas, NV

32.4%

Dallas, TX

28.5%

Tucson, AZ

28.5%

Houston, TX

28.1%

(Source: Brookings Institution.)

Metro area

Pre-senior population (55-64) growth, 2000-08

Raleigh, NC

89.4%

Austin, TX

84.3%

Provo, UT

78.0%

Atlanta, GA

73.7%

Boise, ID

72.9%

Portland, OR

71.3%

Charlotte, NC

71.0%

Madison, WI

66.4%

Houston, TX

64.7%

Denver, CO

64.6%

(Source: Brookings Institution.)