90+ Population Growing

February 2, 2012
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That’s Philomena, my mom, 90!

According to an Associated Press report, nearly 2 million people are now are 90 or over, nearly triple their numbers of just three decades ago. Count my mom in there.


Unfortunately they are more likely than the merely elderly to live in poverty and to have disabilities. My mother is lucky in that regard.

The oldest old are projected to increase from 1.9 million to 8.7 million by midcentury — making up 2 percent of the total U.S. population and one in 10 older Americans.
An Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll in June found that more than one in four adults expect to live to at least 90, including nearly half of those currently 65 or older. A majority of adults also said they expected people in their generation to live longer than those in their parents’ generation, with about 46 percent saying they expected a better quality of life in later years as well.

According to the report:

  • the share of people 90-94 who report having some kind of impairment such as inability to do errands, visit a doctor’s office, climb stairs or bathe is 13 percentage points higher than those 85-89 — 82 percent versus 69 percent.
     
  • Among those 95 and older, the disability rate climbs to 91 percent.
     
  • Census figures show that smaller states had the highest shares of their older Americans who were at least 90. North Dakota led the list, with about 7 percent of its 65-plus population over 90. It was followed by Connecticut, Iowa and South Dakota. In absolute numbers, California, Florida and Texas led the nation in the 90-plus population, each with more than 130,000.
  • Among the 90-plus population, women outnumber men by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1.
     
  • Non-Hispanic whites made up the vast majority of the 90-plus population, at 88.1 percent. That’s compared to 7.6 percent who were black, 4 percent Hispanic and 2.2 percent Asian.
     
  • Most people who were 90 or older lived in households alone, about 37.3 percent.
     
  • Some 37.1 percent lived in households with family or others, while about 23 percent stayed in nursing homes.
     
  • About 3 percent lived in assisted living or other informal care facilities.
     
  • Those who were 90 or older had median income of $14,760, about half of it from Social Security.
     
  • About 14.5 percent of the age group lived in poverty, compared to 9.6 percent for Americans who are 65-89.
The older people get, the more resources they consume because of health care, and disability rates significantly increase. This creates demands for daily care, and for families the care burden increases dramatically, said researchers.

What struck me most was the amount of 90+ living alone. We need to keep an eye on these folks. Programs like Lotsa Helping Hands can help.