Aging Related Facts


The population of older adults will continue to grow significantly in the future. This growth slowed somewhat during the 1990’s because of the relatively small number of babies born during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. But the older population will burgeon between the years 2010 and 2030 when the “baby boom” generation reaches age 65.

The population 65 and over will increase from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010 (a 15% increase) and then to 55 million in 2020 (a 36% increase for that decade) . By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, almost twice their number in 2007. People 65+ represented 12.6% of the population in the year 2007 but are expected to grow to be 19.3% of the population by 2030. The 85+ population is projected to increase from 5.5 million in 2007 to 5.8 million in 2010 and then to 6.6 million in 2020 (15%) for that decade.

The following statistics are eye opening,  and highlight the importance of developing aging curriculum and careers that support the aging population:

  • The older population (65+) numbered 38.9 million in 2008, an increase of 4.5 million or 13.0% since 1998.
  • The number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 31% during this decade.
  • Over one in every eight, or 12.8%, of the population is an older American.
  • Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.6 years (19.8 years for females and 17.1 years for males).
  • Older women outnumber older men at 22.4 million older women to 16.5 million older men.
  • In 2008, 19.6% of persons 65+ were minorities–8.3% were African-Americans.  Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 6.8% of the older population. About 3.4% were Asian or Pacific Islander,  and less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan.  In addition, 0.6% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races.
  • Older men were much more likely to be married than older women–72% of men vs. 42% of women.  42% older women in 2002 were widows.
  • About 31% (11.2 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8.3 million women, 2.9 million men).
  • Half of older women (50%) age 75+ live alone.
  • About 471,000 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.
  • The population 65 and over will increase from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010 (a 15% increase) and then to 55 million in 2020 (a 36% increase for that decade) .
  • The 85+ population is projected to increase from 4.2 million in 2000 to 5.7 million in 2010 (a 36% increase) and then to 6.6 million in 2020 (a 15% increase for that decade).
  • Minority populations are projected to increase from 5.7 million in 2000 (16.3% of the elderly population) to 8.0 million in 2010 (20.1% of the elderly) and then to 12.9 million in 2020 (23.6% of the elderly) .
  • The median income of older persons in 2008 was $25,503 for males and $14,559 for females. Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people did not change in a statistically different amount from 2007 to 2008. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2008 of $44,188.
  • Major sources of income for older people in 2007 were: Social Security (reported by 87% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 52%), private pensions (reported by 28%), government employee pensions (reported by 13%), and earnings (reported by 25%).
  • Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 35% of all Social Security beneficiaries (21% of married couples and 44% of non-married beneficiaries).
  • About 3.7 million elderly persons (9.7%) were below the poverty level in 2008 which is not statistically different from the poverty rate in 2007 (9.7%).
  • About 11% (3.7 million) of older Medicare enrollees received personal care from a paid or unpaid source in 1999.

*Principal sources of data for the Profile are the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the National Center on Health Statistics, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.