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Report Shows Spectrum of Needs Among Older Americans

July 5, 2024

Understanding the nation’s latest data on older adults can aid policymakers and advocates for those 65 and older in responding more effectively to this population’s unique needs, while also helping seniors and their families plan for the future.

Each year, the Administration on Aging (AoA) releases its Profile of Older Americans. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report spotlights issues related to poverty, housing, and health, and identifies key statistics about older adults across the country.

The AoA is part of the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services division. ACL and AoA support older adults at the federal level, implementing family- and community-based services nationwide.

The following highlights the newly released report’s key findings:

The Older Adult Population: More Than 88 Million Seniors in the U.S. by 2060
Older adults comprised 17.3 percent of the population in 2022, representing more than one in six Americans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau estimate, the annual net population of adults 65 and older increased by 1.6 million between 2021 and 2022. As the population continues to age, the percentage is expected to increase to 22 percent by 2040. By 2060, a projected 88.8 million people will be 65 and older.

In 2022, more women than men were 65 and older, with 31.9 million women and 25.9 million men. The average life expectancy of people after turning 65 increased from 18.4 years in 2021 to 18.9 years in 2022. The number of people reaching 100 has more than doubled since 1980.

Racial and ethnic minorities comprised a quarter of the elderly population in 2022.

Marital Status: More Divorced Older Adults
A greater percentage of older adults are divorced. While 5 percent of older adults were divorced in 1980, 16 percent were divorced in 2023.

Sixty-eight percent of older men were married compared with 47 percent of older women. There were three times as many widows as widowers.

Living Arrangements and Housing: Senior Renters Spend Most of Their Income on Housing
While the majority of older adults in the community lived with a spouse or partner, a sizeable population lived alone. Fifty-nine percent lived with a significant other, whereas 28 percent lived alone.

Some states had higher percentages of older adults in 2022, such as Maine, Florida, Vermont, and West Virginia. On the other hand, Alaska, Idaho, and Delaware saw a greater than 50 percent decline in the older adult population between 2012 and 2022.

In 2021, people 75 and older headed 14.8 million households, and about three-quarters owned their homes. Forty-five percent of older people in households spent one-third or more of their income on housing. Owners, on average, put 37 percent of their income toward housing, while renters contributed a staggering 76 percent of their income on housing costs.

Although remaining in their homes is important to most older adults, 35 percent of households reported difficulty with mobility or being able to safely access certain rooms within their home. Since only 10 percent of available homes accommodate these needs, older adults and their families should learn more about preventative measures and accommodations.

Financial Affairs: 1 in 10 Older Adults Live in Poverty
The median income for older adults was $29,740. Men earned more than women, receiving $37,430 and $24,630, respectively. Households with families headed by seniors had a median income of $73,100.

Poverty rates remained unchanged from 2021 to 2022, impacting one in 10 older adults who lived below the poverty level. About 5 percent of older adults were near poor, with income between the poverty level and 125 percent of it.

For some groups, poverty rates were higher. Racial and ethnic minority groups with higher poverty rates in older adulthood included African Americans, Asian Americans, and the Hispanic population.

Women had a slightly higher poverty rate than men, while people living in families had lower poverty rates than those living alone. States with the highest poverty rates included the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

People 65 and older made up 6.7 percent of the labor force. The unemployment rate of 3 percent stayed the same from 2021 to 2022.

Education: Most Seniors Have Completed High School
Older populations have seen an increase in education levels. From 1970 to 2022, the portion of older adults who graduated high school increased from 28 percent to 89 percent.

Health: Costs for Seniors Are Rising
Nearly a quarter of older adults reported their health as fair or poor. The leading chronic conditions included hypertension, high cholesterol, and arthritis.

A third reported living with a disability. This included 21 percent who had difficulty with mobility, 14 percent with hearing loss, and 13 percent who were unable to live independently.

Out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors rose from $5,118 in 2012 to $7,540 in 2022. Retirement-age individuals spent more on health care than the general population.

Medicare covered 94 percent of noninstitutionalized seniors.

Caregiving: Millions of Older Americans Provide Unpaid Care to a Senior
During retirement age, some individuals received care, whereas others took on caregiving roles. In 2021 and 2022, 37.1 million individuals provided unpaid care to those 65 and older.

In 2022, 1.1 million grandparents 60 and older cared for grandchildren living in their homes, and 1.3 million cared for family members with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Work With an Elder Law Attorney
When facing concerns related to finances, housing, long-term care, and health, seniors can benefit from working with an attorney. Consult one of our qualified elder law attorneys to plan for a fulfilling and secure future as you grow older.