"Sailors plan for safety. For escape. For survival. Sailors rely on plans, on strategies that have worked before. Trust me, most mariners are conservative. We stick to the tried and true." Randall Peffer, "Listen to the Dead"

Friday, May 14, 2021

Interesting Facts and Figures

      I ran across a report entitled Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well Being. It came out last fall, so it's possible you're a step ahead of me and have already seen it. But a lot of this information is new to me. The report acknowledges that it does not include the effects of Covid-19. But it does contain the most current data available.

     Here are a dozen highlights you might find interesting:

     There are roughly 52 million people age 65 and over living in the United States today, accounting for 16% of the population. That compares to just 35 million people in 2000 -- and a projected 73 million, or 21% of the population, ten years from now.

     Less than half of women 65 and over are married. The married rate for women is 46%, compared to 71% of men who are married. Some 32% of women are widowed, and 11% of men.

     About 30% of people 65 and over have a four-year college degree, and 86% have a high school degree.

     Older people have a lower rate of poverty than any other age group -- just 9% of people age 65 - 74, and 14% for people age 85 and over. Overall, the poverty rate of people 65 and over has decreased from 15% in 1974 to 10% today.

     Social Security benefits for women have changed dramatically, from spouse-only or widow-only benefits to earned worker benefits. Today some 80% of female beneficiaries get earned worker benefits.

     We're getting wealthier. Since 1989 the median net worth, adjusted for inflation, of households headed by people age 65 and over has increased by 60% -- from $158,225 to $253,800.

     On average, for people age 65 and over, some 33% of their income went to housing, 14% to transportation, 13% to health care, 13% to food. For those who are older, age 75 and over, the figures are 36% for housing, 16% for health care, 13% for food and 12% for transportation.

     Life expectancy has increased for everyone -- men and women, white, black, Hispanic and Asian. In just the last decade alone, life expectancy for men at age 65 has increased from 17.2 years to 18.1 years. For women the increase is 19.9 years to 20.7 years. (But Covid has no doubt changed these numbers, at least temporarily.)

    Death rates for heart disease, cancer and diabetes have gone down. Death rates for Alzheimer's disease and injuries have gone up. (About 7.5% of people 65 and over not living in nursing homes are reported to have dementia.)

     About 22% of people age 65 and over report some kind of disability -- vision, hearing, mobility, cognition.

     Only 14% of people 65 and over participated in physical activity that meets recommended guidelines. The obesity rate has increased from 22% in 1990 to 40% today.

     Some 13% of people age 65 to 74 admit to limiting their driving to daytime hours because of their vision or health. (Okay, I admit it! Well . . . I will drive at night; but I prefer to drive in daylight, especially on unfamiliar roads.) Meanwhile, only 41% of people 85 and over limit their driving to the daytime. (IMHO that figure should be higher . . . I remember my dad driving when he was in his late 80s, it was a scary ride!) 

     If you want to know more about the lifestyles of older Americans, you can check out the report yourself at Older Americans 2020: Key Indicators of Well Being. It's only, um, 184 pages long.


Susan Zarzycki said...

I'm glad you condensed it for us. I no longer drive after dark if I don't absolutely have to because I scare myself half to death! It's one of the aging disabilities that bothers me the most but it is what it is. Your posts are always interesting and thought provoking. Take care.

Kay said...

This was very interesting and I'm happy to say we've definitely kept our weight down. Art exercises a lot. Me? Hmmm... Not as much as I should. I don't drive anymore, and yes, Art definitely prefers driving in daylight.

Carole said...

I wonder if the housing costs include taxes and utilities. That percentage seems a little high to me, but I guess I'm assuming most older folks have paid off their mortgage. Looks like there is a correlation between the low prevalence of exercise and the high obesity rates. And it is a little concerning that in 10 years 21% of the population will be eligible for social security. Yikes! Can our current system manage that?

Fascinating read. Great post!

Tom said...

I've read, unfortunately, that at the rate we're going and if no changes are made, SS will be forced to cut benefits in about 10 or 12 years. Maybe I should look into it further and do a post about it. In any case, I hope something is done!

Sue said...

Dear Carole, was thinking the same thing - close to a third on housing. But then I remembered, housing may include hiring someone to come and cut the grass. Also, there may come a time to sell the house, and go live in a nursing facility - that can get pricey.

DJan said...

At 78, I no longer drive much at night, only if I must, but I also have AMD, which makes my eyesight much worse in low light. Fascinating statitics.

Arkansas Patti said...

These were very interesting stats. I was pleased to see we have such a low rate of poverty.
But we really do need to move more--me included.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Interesting facts although I've always believed in the statement "Figures don’t lie, but liars figure" :-) I also found it interesting that hearing and vision loss is still put in the same category of disability as cognitive loss. Not even close in my opinion. As for driving at night, I'll admit I don't do it much but not because I'm nervous about it...but since COVID where is there to go? ~Kathy

Fred said...

Social Security is the best program the government ever came up with. It is a fairly simple problem to solve, if only more than one party was interested. I would be very interested in seeing your take on this subject Tom. I attached a link to one of numerous sites that allows one to play with numerous factors to solve the SS funding issue.

Linda Myers said...

Really interesting. Not a huge amount of poverty in our age group. Or a huge amount of exercise. I'm exercising less these days because I need a knee replacement.

Rian said...

Yes, exercise seems to have suffered during the pandemic. I mean there's only so many times you can walk around your house. Now that spring is here (if the weather holds out) we can walk around the neighborhood more. And no, I don't drive at night... or much during the day since my accident a few years ago. It definitely affected me. But I can drive and hope to get back to it soon.

Mage said...

Yes, the two of us seem to reflect the worst of those stats.

Meryl Baer said...

I have not seen the report. I can drive at night, but prefer not to. No more late-night long distance driving. I wonder if life expectancy will decrease in coming years, not only because of COVID, but because of the high rate of obesity and lack of exercise.

Laurie Stone said...

Mostly good statistics except for that obesity rate -- 40%! Was very surprised, especially since heart disease has gone down. Go figure.

Carol Cassara said...

Well, aging is definitely an adventure. It has taken me by surprise, too!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I definitely don't like driving at night and would prefer not to drive at all. But, I still like going to lots of places so I guess I'll have to.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't sound feasible:
"Less than half of women 65 and over are married. The married rate for women is 46%, compared to 71% of men who are married."

How can 71% of men be married but only 46% of women are? My question: who are these men married to?

Poverty in old age? FYI the Social Security rise this year is going to be 4.2%. That should help a lot of elders out. Unfortunately, they'll probably raise Medicare 4.8% so the point may be moot.

Tom said...

Anon. -- I didn't independently verify the govt. percentages, but I take them for what they are. The explanation: the same number of men and women are married, but since there are fewer men than women in the age group, the percentage of men is much higher. Anyway, yeah I agree, it seems that as far as SS and Medicare go, we have to move faster and faster just to stay even.

Terra said...

I think most of these points are correct. There are sure a lot of oldies around; an ever increasing over 65 population presents numerous problems. We can be rather expensive re health care costs and nursing home costs, etc. I am loving being retired.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

Interesting information. I really find the wealth statistic fascinating since I watched my parents struggle in retirement. Actually, when they were both receiving SS it was ok, but once dad died the increase to my mother's payout didn't make up for the difference of not having his full check. All they had was SS, there were no retirement plans or 401K's for them.

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