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Boomers living longer, drinking less

Written by Diane Archer

According to a recent NIH-commissioned Census Bureau report, there’s some good news for boomers if current trends continue.  Older adults are smoking and drinking less.  And fewer older adults are now living in nursing homes, down from 4.5 percent to 3.1 percent.  More are living in long-term care facilities.  Medicaid has been spending a much larger share of its budget on home and community-based care (from 13 percent to 43 percent) than on nursing home care between 1990 and 2007.

Americans are also living longer.  White Americans are living longer than African American, Hispanic and Asian Americans.  In 2010, 15.3 percent of White Americans were over 65 as compared to only 8.8 percent of African Americans.  Of course, situations vary considerably in terms of how long people live and how well they age as well as people’s financial and educational status.

Not surprisingly, the population of people 65 and older is growing faster than the population of people under 65, increasing twelve-fold between 1900 and 2010, from 3.1 million (4.1 percent) to 40.3 million (13 percent). Four states hit it big with older adults.  At least 15 percent of the population in Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maine were 65 or older in 2010.

The population of older adults is expected to almost double by 2050, to 83.7 million, 20.9 percent of the population.  Improved health is a key reason the older population is growing, especially Americans over 85. Interestingly, in 2010, 50 countries had a higher proportion of people 65 and older than the United States.

Of note, more older adults are voting and using the Internet.


Census Bureau

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