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Census Bureau Issues Revealing Report on Older Americans

By Harry S. Margolis

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a report on the 65+ in the United States: 2014 that paints an interesting picture of the changing demographics of the nation as a whole and of older Americans in particular. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The percentage of the population aged 65 and over among the total population was 13.0 percent in 2010, up from 12.4 percent in 2000. It is projected to reach 20.3 percent by 2030, or one in five Americans. It will stay at this level more or less through 2050. However, the group will age over time with those 85 and older constituting 2 percent of the population in 2020 and 4.5 percent in 2050.
  • The number of “young old” — 65 to 74 year olds — will balloon in the coming decade as more and more Baby Boomers pass the age 65 threshold, growing from 7 to almost 10 percent of the population between 2010 and 2020.
  • 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. This, no doubt, reflects two trends: that the average age of older Americans is decreasing as Baby Boomers begin to reach age 65 in huge numbers and the move away from institutional care to alternatives such as assisted living facilities.
  • Consistent with these changes, 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 long-term care funding in 1990 to 43 percent in 2007.
  • We are not nearly as old as Europe, 16 percent of whose population was 65 and over in 2010. This cohort is expected to grow to 23 percent in 2030 and a whopping 28 percent by 2050.
  • Disability appears to hit hard after age 85 with fully half of Americans over that age having difficulty walking and climbing stairs and requiring assistance in doing errands. In contrast, only one in five of those between 75 and 84 and 8 percent of those 65 to 74 need assistance doing errands. Also the number of older Americans showing signs of dementia increases dramatically from 12 percent of 75 to 84-year-olds to 28 percent of those 85 and older.
  • Sources of funding for long-term care in 2006 were as follows:

Medicaid           43%

Out-of-pocket    28% (includes income contributions of those on Medicaid)

Medicare          18%

Insurance          7%  (both long-term care and Medigap)

Other                4%

  • In terms of income of Americans age 65 and over, Social Security makes up 84 percent of the income of those in the lowest income quintile and only 17 percent of those in the highest income quintile. However, this statistic may be a bit misleading because a large part of the difference seems to be whether or not people are continuing to work. Those in the top quintile earn 45 percent of their income while those in the bottom quintile only earn 2.4 percent of their income.
  • Massachusetts, with 902,724 residents 65 and over making up 13.8 percent of the state’s population in 2010, ranks as the 13th oldest state in terms of total numbers and as the 19th oldest in percentage terms. Massachusetts does not have any county that ranks among the 50 oldest nationwide.

These statistics only scratch the surface of the comprehensive report that is replete with interesting and valuable information. They show an aging US population, but probably no huge surge in the need for care until about 2030 when the older Baby Boomers start reaching the age-85 threshold. Click here to go directly to the source.

Margolis & Bloom, LLP, practices estate, long-term care and special needs planning in Boston, Dedham, Framingham and Woburn with a strong commitment to client service.  If you have questions about these or other legal matters, do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail by clicking here or by calling us at 617.267.9700.

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