Boomer Report – NIH-commissioned Census Bureau Report

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NIH-commissioned Census Bureau report highlights effect of aging boomers

Data on individual, economic, social changes linked to dramatically aging population

While rates of smoking and excessive drinking have declined among older Americans, prevalence of chronic disease has risen, and many older Americans are unprepared to afford the costs of long-term care in a nursing home, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau commissioned by the National Institutes of Health.

The report highlights those trends and others among America’s older population, now over 40 million and expected to more than double by mid-century, growing to 83.7 million people and one-fifth of the U.S. population by 2050. Population trends and other national data about people 65 and older are presented in the report, 65+ in the United States: 2010 (PDF, 12.0M). It documents aging as quite varied in terms of how long people live, how well they age, their financial and educational status, their medical and long-term care and housing costs, where they live and with whom, and other factors important for aging and health.

Funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of NIH, the report draws heavily on data from the 2010 Census and other nationally representative surveys, such as the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey and the National Health Interview Survey. In addition, data from NIA-funded research was included in the report.

“The National Institute on Aging is pleased to support this 65+ in the United States report,” said Richard Suzman, director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at NIA. “This report series uniquely combines Census Bureau and other federal statistics with findings from NIA-supported studies on aging. The collaboration with Census has been of great value in developing social, economic and demographic statistics on our aging population with this edition highlighting an approaching crisis in caregiving — since the baby boomers had fewer children compared to their parents.”

A key aspect of the report is the effect that the aging of the baby boom generation—those born between 1946 and 1964—will have on the U.S. population and on society in general. Baby boomers began to reach age 65 in 2011; between 2010 and 2020, the older generation is projected to grow more rapidly than in any other decade since 1900.

The report points out some critical health-related issues:

 

  • Rates of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have declined among those 65 and older, but the percentage of overweight and obese people has increased. Between 2003-2006, 72 percent of older men and 67 percent of older women were overweight or obese. Obesity is associated in increased rates of diabetes, arthritis, and impaired mobility, and in some cases with higher death rates.
  • Research based on NIA’s Health and Retirement Study suggests that the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and diabetes, increased among older people between 1998 and 2008. For example, in 2008, 41 percent of the older population had three or more chronic conditions, 51 percent had one or two, and only 8 percent had no chronic conditions.
  • The cost of long-term care varies by care setting. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home was $229 per day or $83,585 per year in 2010. Less than one-fifth of older people have the personal financial resources to live in a nursing home for more than three years and almost two-thirds cannot afford even one year. Medicare provides coverage in a skilled nursing facility to older and disabled patients for short time periods following hospitalization. Medicaid covers long-term care in certified facilities for qualifying low-income seniors. In 2006, Medicaid paid for 43 percent of long-term care.

“Most of the long-term care provided to older people today comes from unpaid family members and friends,” noted Suzman. “Baby boomers had far fewer children than their parents. Combined with higher divorce rates and disrupted family structures, this will result in fewer family members to provide long-term care in the future. This will become more serious as people live longer with conditions such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.”

Other areas covered in the report include economic characteristics, geographic distribution, social and other characteristics. See highlights below.

“We hope this report will serve as a useful resource to policymakers, researchers, educators, students and the public at large,” said Enrique Lamas, the Census Bureau’s associate director for demographic programs. “We sought to develop a comprehensive reference with up-to-date information from a variety of reliable sources.”

About the National Institute on Aging (NIA): The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The Institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to www.nia.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH…Turning Discovery into Health

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65+ in the United States: 2010 (PDF, 12.0M)
Highlights

Population Characteristics

  • In 2010, there were 40.3 million people aged 65 and older, 12 times the number in 1900.
  • The percentage of the population aged 65 and over among the total population increased from 4.1 percent in 1900 to 13.0 percent in 2010 and is projected to reach 20.9 percent by 2050.
  • From 2010 onwards, the older dependency ratio—the number of people aged 65 and over per 100 people aged 20 to 64—is expected to rise sharply as the baby boomers enter the older ages. In 2030, when all baby boomers will have already passed age 65, the older dependency ratio is expected to be 37, which translates into fewer than three people of working age (20 to 64) to support every older person.
  • The older population has become more racially and ethnically diverse, with those identifying their race as white alone comprising 84.8 percent in 2010, down from 86.9 percent in 2000.

Health and Long-term Care

  • Over 38 percent of those aged 65 and over had one or more disabilities in 2010, with the most common difficulties being walking, climbing stairs and doing errands alone.
  • The share of the older population residing in skilled nursing facilities declined from 4.5 percent in 2000 to 3.1 percent in 2010. The share in other long-term care facilities, such as assisted living, has been growing.
  • Medicaid funds for long-term care have been shifting away from nursing homes with funding for home- and community-based services increasing from 13 percent of total funding in 1990 to 43 percent in 2007.
  • Changing marital trends, such as the rise of divorces, as well as the increase in living alone among the 65-and-over population, will likely alter the social support needs of aging baby boomers.

Economic Characteristics

  • Labor force participation rates rose for both older men and older women in the first decade of the 21st century, reaching 22.1 percent for older men and 13.8 percent for older women. In contrast, the labor force participation rates for the population aged 25 to 34 fell from 2000 to 2010 for both men and women.
  • The older white alone population was less likely than the older black alone and Asian alone populations to live in poverty. Older Hispanics were more likely to live in poverty than older non-Hispanic white alone residents.
  • Following the housing price peak in 2006, homeownership rates declined for the population under age 65 but remained flat for older householders.
  • Housing costs were slightly less of a burden in 2009 compared with 2001 for older householders.
  • Many older workers managed to stay employed during the recession. The population aged 65 and over was the only age group not to see a decline in its employment share from 2005 to 2010. In 2010, 16.2 percent of the population aged 65 and over were employed, up from 14.5 percent in 2005.

Geographic Distribution

  • Eleven states had more than 1 million people aged 65 and older in 2010.
  • States with the highest proportions of older people in their populations in 2010 included Florida, West Virginia, Maine, and Pennsylvania (all above 15 percent).
  • The West and South regions experienced the fastest growth in their 65-plus and 85-plus populations between 2000 and 2010.
  • In 2010, more than 7 out of 10 older Hispanics lived in four states: California (26.9 percent), Texas (19.2 percent), Florida (15.7 percent), and New York (9.0 percent).
  • The vast majority of older people do not move, but their moving rates remained stable between 2000 and 2010, in contrast to the slowdown in migration among younger populations.

Social Trends

  • The population aged 65 and over was the only age group to see an increase in voter participation in the 2012 presidential election compared with the 2008 presidential election.
  • In 2010, Internet usage among the older population was up 31 percentage points from a decade prior.
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NIA at NIH Press Release 08.16.2012 – Status of Older Americans

NIA NEWS
For Immediate Release

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Federal report details health, economic status of older Americans

Today’s older Americans enjoy longer lives and better physical function than did previous generations, although, for some, an increased burden in housing costs and rising obesity may compromise these gains, according to a comprehensive federal look at aging. The report, Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being, tracks trends at regular intervals to see how older people are faring as the U.S. population grows older.

In 2010, 40 million people age 65 and over accounted for 13 percent of the total population in the United States. In 2030, the number and proportion of older Americans is expected to grow significantly—to 72 million, representing nearly 20 percent of the population said the report, by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.

Older Americans 2012, the sixth report prepared by the Forum since 2000, provides an updated and accessible compendium of indicators, drawn from official statistics about the well-being of Americans primarily age 65 and older. The 176-page report provides a broad description of areas of well-being that are improving for older Americans and those that are not. Thirty-seven key indicators are categorized into five broad areas—population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care. This year’s report also includes a special feature on the end of life.

Highlights of Older Americans 2012 include:

  • Increased labor force participation by older women – Participation of older women in the labor force has increased significantly over the past 40 years. In 1963, 29 percent of women aged 62-64 worked outside the home; in 2011, that had increased to 45 percent. In 1963, 17 percent of women aged 65-69 were in the labor force; in 2011, that had increased to 27 percent. For women 70 and older, 6 percent worked in 1963, increasing to 8 percent in 2011. Some older Americans work out of economic necessity. Others may be attracted by the social contact, intellectual challenges or sense of value that work often provides.
  • Declines in poverty, increases in income since 1974 – Older Americans are in better economic shape now than they were in 1974. Between 1974 and 2010, the proportion of older people with income below the poverty thresholds (less than $10,458 in 2010 for a person 65 and older) fell from 15 percent to 9 percent. The percentage with low income (between $10,458 and $20,916 in 2010 for people 65 and older) dropped from 35 percent to 26 percent. There were also notable gains in income over the period, as the proportion of people 65 and older with high income ($41,832 and above in 2010) rose from 18 percent to 31 percent.
  • Increased housing problems –The most significant issue by far is housing cost burden, which has been steadily increasing over time. In 1985, about 30 percent of households with householders or spouses age 65 and over spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities. By 2009, the proportion of older people with high housing cost burden reached 40 percent. For some multigenerational households, crowded housing is also fairly prevalent.
  • Rising rates of obesity – Obesity, a major cause of preventable disease and premature death, is increasing among older people. In 2009-2010, 38 percent of people age 65 and over were obese, compared with 22 percent in 1988-1994. In 2009-2010, 44 percent of people age 65-74 were obese, as were 29 percent of those age 75 and older.
  • More use of hospice –The percentage of older people who received hospice care in the last 30 days of life increased from 19 percent in 1999 to 43 percent in 2009. The percentage of older Americans who died in hospitals dropped from 49 percent in 1999 to 32 percent in 2009. The percentage who died at home increased from 15 percent in 1999 to 24 percent in 2009. In 2009, there were notable differences in the use of hospice services at the end of life among people of different race and ethnicity groups.

Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being is available online at http://www.agingstats.gov.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics was established in 1986 to improve the quality and utility of federal data on aging. This report assembles data to construct broad indicators of well-being for the older population and to monitor changes in these indicators over time. The effort is designed to inform the public, policy makers, and researchers about important trends in the aging population. The 15 agencies represented in the Forum include the Administration on Aging, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Health Statistics, National Institute on Aging, Office of Management and Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (Department of Health and Human Services), Social Security Administration and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being is available online at http://www.agingstats.gov and in limited quantities in print. Supporting data for each indicator, including complete tables, PowerPoint slides and source descriptions, can be found on the Forum’s website. Single printed copies of Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being are available at no charge through the National Center for Health Statistics while supplies last. Requests may be made by calling 1-866-441-6247 or by sending an e-mail to nchsquery@cdc.gov. For multiple print copies, call 301-458-4460 or send an e-mail request to agingforum@cdc.gov.

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The following individuals are available to comment on the report:

National Center for Health Statistics:
Edward Sondik, Ph.D., director, National Center for Health Statistics

National Institute on Aging:
Richard Suzman, Ph.D., director, NIA Division of Behavioral and Social Research

To schedule interviews, please contact:

NCHS Press Office: 301-458-4800, paoquery@cdc.gov
N
IA Press Office: 301-496-1752; nianews3@mail.nih.gov