And they're getting older.
Actually, it's the population of Northwest North Carolina that is getting older, according to a report from the Winston-Salem Journal.
"The elderly population in Northwest North Carolina mountain counties is growing markedly, according to recent census estimates.
"The numbers support a common perception that a lot of retirees are moving to the area. Experts say that improved medical care also promotes longer life spans that account for part of the increase.
"Census data in a statistical area made up of Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties show that 17.6 percent of the household population now is older than 65. That compares with 11.7 percent of household population older than 65 in North Carolina as a whole."
A recent study that ranked states according to the number of new elderly residents showed North Carolina in third place, after Florida and Arizona, said Ed Rosenberg, the director of the gerontology graduate program at ASU.
Census estimates show an 11.8 percent drop in ages 35 to 44 in Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties. Those figures are more a reflection of cycles of births and the age groupings of the statistics than an exodus of young-er people leaving the mountains, Rosenberg said.
He said, however, that the aging mountain population will more than double in the coming decades. ...
What the mountain counties look like now gives a window to what the state as a whole will look like in fewer than 20 years, when the number of North Carolinians 65 and older will make up about 17.5 percent of the population, he said.
And to see what North Carolina will look like then, visit Florida.
"In about 20 years, North Carolina is going to have a higher percentage of older people than Florida does now," Rosenberg said. "That's what we're going to look like."