US senior citizens set to double by 2030

Washington: The number of senior citizens in the US is expected to almost double within the next 25 years, says a new census report from the National Insititute on Aging.

By 2030, almost one in five Americans will be 65 or older, up from the current 12 percent.The eport does not project growth by state or county, but in 2000, Cook County had 630,265 people over 65, the second-largest elderly county in the nation, trailing only Los Angeles County. About 12 percent of Cook County residents are 65 or older.Statewide, Illinois had 1.5 million seniors, or about 12 percent of the total population. The number grew about 4 percent between 1990 and 2000.


1. Heart disease
2. Cancer
3. Stroke
4. Chronic respiratory diseases such bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
5. Pneumonia and influenza

1900: 47
1950: 68
1960: 70
1980: 74
1990: 75
2000: 77

It’s a baby boomer-fueled phenomenon, as the oldest begin to turn 65 in 2011. The growth will affect several facets of America, from family life to health care to public policy, note the authors of the report, “65 + in the United States: 2005.”

The growth likely will be expensive, as the ratio of younger, working people supporting older people shrinks, the researchers say. In 2000, there was one older person for every five working-age people; in 2030, there will be one older person for every three workers.

Other findings include the fact that Americans are living longer the average is now 77 years. The population older than 85 has almost doubled since 1980.

The health of older Americans is generally improving – in 1982, about 26 percent of senior citizens reported having a disability; in 1999, that dropped to about 20 percent. Many have quit smoking. But obesity is on the rise: 33 percent of men and 39 percent of senior women. And about 80 percent of seniors say they have at least one chronic health problem.

Tomorrow’s retirees will be better educated, which has been linked to longer life expectancy and health.

*Finances: About 10 percent of Americans over 65 were living in poverty in 2003, a significant improvement from 1959, when 35 percent were officially poor. (Of all American age groups, 12.5 percent live below the poverty level.)

About 19 percent are in the labor force; that number is projected to increase.

*Living alone: More seniors are divorced, mirroring American society as a whole. In 1960, only about 1.5 percent of senior Americans were divorced, but by 2003, that number grew to about 8 percent.

The median income for older households was $36,006 in 2003, though that number drops by half for elderly living alone, including widowers. More than one out of three women over 65 in Illinois live alone.

About half of the people over 65 need assistance with everyday activities. Marriage creates a larger social network of relatives and friends who can provide vital support at older ages, the researchers say.