- In 1985, older adults accounted for 11 percent of the U.S. population.
- By 2010, they were 13 percent. More than 40 million Americans are now age 65+.
- By 2030, as the last Baby Boomers turn 65, older adults are expected to reach 20 percent of the population. After that, the proportion is expected to level off, but the absolute number of individuals age 65+ will keep growing.
- In California, 4.3 million people are age 65+ (11.4 percent of the population), an 18 percent increase since 2000.
Living to 85+
- In 1900, only 100,000 Americans lived to be 85+.
- By 2010, that number had grown to 5.5 million. This is the fastest growing age group of elders.
- By 2050, the 85+ age group will reach 19 million—24 percent of older adults and five percent of the total population.
- Some researchers say the 85+ group will grow even faster than this, because death rates at older ages will decline more rapidly than the U.S. Census Bureau predicts.
- Of the older adults who were living outside nursing homes or hospitals in 2010, nearly one third (11.3 million) lived alone.
- Older women are twice as likely as older men to live alone (37 percent and 19 percent, respectively). In 2010, 72 percent of older men lived with a spouse, only 42 percent of older women did.
- Living arrangements differ by race and ethnicity. Older non-Hispanic White women and Black women are more likely than women of other races to live alone (39 percent each, compared with about 21 percent of older Asian women and 23 percent of older Hispanic women).
- The likelihood of living alone increases with age. Among women age 75+, almost half (47 percent) lived alone in 2010.
Women Living Longer
- Older women outnumber older men, and the proportion of older adults who are female increases with age.
- In 2010, 57 percent of all adults age 65+ were women. Two-thirds of Americans age 85+are women.
- Women are more likely to have functional limitations than men. In 2009, about 46 percent of female Medicare enrollees age 65+ had difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs) or were in a facility, compared with 35 percent of their male counterparts.
Living with Chronic Conditions
- Chronic illness has replaced acute illness as the major health problem of older adults—and increasingly so as medicine evolves.
- In 1984, more than 80 percent of older adults had one or more chronic health conditions. By 2005, that percentage had increased to 91 percent.
- Between 1981 and 2009, the death rates for heart disease and stroke fell by more than 50 percent. These conditions did not disappear; rather, people are surviving and living with the chronic consequences of cardiovascular disease.
- The prevalence of diabetes reported by persons age 65+ increased from 13 percent in 1997–1998 to nearly 21 percent in 2009–2010. The prevalence of diabetes among adults age 65+ increased by more than 50 percent between 1997 and 2006, according to The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS, 1997, 2006).
- In 2009–2010, 38 percent of people age 65+ were obese, compared with 22 percent in 1988–1994.
Living Long in Poverty
- Of the 4.27 million Californians who were age 65+ in 2010, nearly 10 percent were living in poverty.
Living in Institutions
- In the 17 years between 1992 and 2009, admissions to skilled nursing facilities increased almost threefold, from 28 to 80 per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
- 1.3 million Americans now live in nursing homes. (2012)
- In 1990, nearly 1 in 4 Americans age 85+ lived in a nursing home.
Depression and Suicide
- Older women are more likely than older men to report that they are depressed. In one study, 16 percent of women reported being depressed compared with 11 percent of men (2008).
- The prevalence of depression increases with age. In 2008, the proportion of people age 65+ with clinically relevant symptoms was higher for those 85+ (18 percent) than for people in any of the younger groups (12 to 15 percent).
- The percentage of men 85+ (19 percent) reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms was almost twice that of any younger men (about 10 percent).
Caring for Loved Ones
- Sixty-five percent of older adults with long-term care needs rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance. (Another 30 percent supplement family care with paid assistance.)
- Care provided by family and friends can determine whether an older person can remain at home. In fact, 50 percent of the elderly who have a long-term care need but no family available to care for them are in nursing homes, while only 7 percent who have a family caregiver are in institutional settings.
- As of 2011, some 43.5 million adult family caregivers were taking care of someone 50+ years of age. Of these, 14.9 million were caring for someone with dementia. As more people live long enough to experience multiple health issues and dependency, more relatives will be facing this responsibility.
- In one Gallup survey, 55 percent of caregivers reported providing care for three years or more.
Women as Caregivers
- Upwards of 75 percent of all caregivers are women.
- The average caregiver is a married woman, age 46, working outside the home for $35,000 annually.
- Female caregivers may spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than men.
- A common scenario is an older woman who cares for her husband only to discover later that there are few financial or other resources to meet her own needs for assistance. One 1998 study found that half of Baby Boomer women caregivers suffered “financial hardship” as a result of their care-giving. The economic value of the informal care provided by women is estimated at somewhere between $148 billion and $188 billion annually.
Spending on Health Care
- Between 1977 and 2009, the percentage of household income that people age 65+ spent out of pocket for health care increased among the poor and near poor from 12 percent to 22 percent.
- Medicaid spending on long-term care has increased significantly: from $3.4 billion in 1973 to $13.2 billion in 1982 to $126 billion in 2010.
Living with Limitations
- In 2005, 56 percent of persons age 80+ reported a severe disability and 29 percent of the 80+ population reported needing assistance.
- In 2009, 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries age 65+ reported difficulty with at least one ADL (activities of daily living).
- Physical limitations increase with age. Among men age 65–74, 13 percent reported being unable to perform at least one ADL, compared with 40 percent of men age 85+. 19 percent of women age 65–74 were unable to perform at least one activity, compared with 53 percent of those age 85+.
(from Institute on Aging, 2018)