Are We Ready for Our Country’s Aging Demographics?

Are We Ready for Our Country’s Aging Demographics?

Did you know that since 1900, the percentage of Americans 65+ has more than tripled (from 4.1% in 1900 to 14.1% in 2013), and the number has increased over 13 times (from 3.1 million to 44.7 million)? Did you know that as of 2013, 44.7 million Americans are 65 years of age or older, representing 14.1% of the U.S. population. This is about 1 in every 7 Americans and is an increase of 8.8 million or 24.7% since 2003, compared to an increase of 6.8% for the under-65 population. That’s a huge growth in our elder population, and many more people eligible for Medicare. In fact, each day for the next 17 years, 10,000 new people become eligible for Medicare. This is one of the reasons CHA is dedicated to providing premier education and advocacy on behalf of California’s growing beneficiary population both in the areas of Medicare and long-term care. In the coming months, we’ll be looking more closely at the larger socioeconomic and political issues around long-term care and advocacy for the care and wellbeing of our older adults and society at large.

Below are links to the Administration on Community Living/Administration on Aging’s report, A Profile of Older Americans: 2014 and a few more interesting facts taken from that report.

  • Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.3 years (20.5 years for females and 17.9 years for males).
  • There were 67,347 persons aged 100 or more in 2013 (0.15% of the total 65+ population).
  • Older women outnumber older men at 25.1 million older women to 19.6 million older men.
  • In 2013, 21.2% of persons 65+ were members of racial or ethnic minority populations–8.6% were African-Americans (not Hispanic), 3.9% were Asian or Pacific Islander (not Hispanic),  0.5% were Native American (not Hispanic), 0.1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, (not Hispanic), and  0.7% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races. Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 7.5% of the older population.
  • Older men were much more likely to be married than older women—72% of men, 46% of women – (Figure 2). In 2014, 35% older women were widows.
  • About 28% (12.5 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8.8 million women, 3.8 million men).
  • Almost half of older women (46%) age 75+ live alone.
  • In 2013, about 536,000 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.
  • The population 65 and over has increased from 35.9 million in 2003 to 44.7 million in 2013 (a 24.7% increase) and is projected to more than double to 98 million in 2060.
  • The 85+ population is projected to triple from 6 million in 2013 to 14.6 million in 2040.
  • Racial and ethnic minority populations have increased from 6.3 million in 2003 (17.5% of the older adults population) to 9.5 million in 2013 (21.2% of the older adults) and are projected to increase to 21.1 million in 2030 (28.5% of the older adults).
  • The median income of older persons in 2013 was $29,327 for males and $16,301 for females. Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people rose by 3.7% (which was statistically significant) between 2012 and 2013. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2013 of $51,486
  • The major sources of income as reported by older persons in 2012 were Social Security (reported by 86% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 51%), private pensions (reported by 27%), government employee pensions (reported by 14%), and earnings (reported by 28%).
  • Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 36% of beneficiaries in 2012 (22% of married couples and 47% of non-married beneficiaries).
  • Over 4.2 million older adults persons (9.5%) were below the poverty level in 2013. This poverty rate is statistically different from the poverty rate in 2012 (9.1%). In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau also released a new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) which takes into account regional variations in the livings costs, non-cash benefits received, and non-discretionary expenditures but does not replace the official poverty measure.   In 2013, the SPM shows a poverty level for older persons of 14.6% (more than 5 percentage points higher than the official rate of 9.5%). This increase is mainly due to including medical out-of-pocket expenses in the poverty calculations.
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.