Key Factors that Indicate the Well-Being of the Elderly

Every year, the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics releases the latest data on the elderly population. There are 41 key indicators divided into six subject areas: population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, environment, and health care. Each category indicates aspects of the lives of older Americans, their families, and their caregivers.

Here are some of the most interesting stats from the 2016 report:



  • In 2014, 46 million people age 65 and over lived in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of the total population.

  • The older population in 2030 is projected to be more than twice as large as in 2000, growing from 35 million to 74 million and representing 21 percent of the total U.S. population.

  • In 2015, 84 percent of the population age 65 and over were high school graduates or more, and 27 percent had a Bachelor’s degree or more.

  • Older women were more likely than older men to live alone (36 percent versus 20 percent).



  • In 1966, 29 percent of people age 65 and over lived below the poverty threshold. By 2014, the proportion of the older population living in poverty had decreased dramatically to 10 percent.

  • In 2013, the median net worth of households headed by White people age 65 and over ($255,000) was almost five times that of the median net worth of households headed by older Black people ($56,700).

  • In 2015, labor force participation rates for women age 55 and over remained high after rising over the past four decades


Health Status

  • Between 1999 and 2014, age-adjusted death rates for all causes of death among people age 65 and over declined by 20 percent. Death rates declined for heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, and influenza and pneumonia.

  • In 2011, among people ages 65–74, men were more likely to have dementia than women, but among adults age 85 and over, women were more likely to have dementia than men.

  • In 2014, 22 percent of the population age 65 and over reported having a disability as defined by limitations in vision, hearing, mobility, communication, cognition, and self-care. Women were more likely to report any disability than men (24 percent versus 19 percent).


Health Risks and Behaviors

  • In 2014, about 12 percent of people age 65 and over reported participating in leisure-time aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities that met the 2008 Federal physical activity guidelines

  •  The percentage of older people meeting the physical activity guidelines decreased with age, ranging from 15 percent among people ages 65–74 to 5 percent among people age 85 and over.

  •  As with other age groups, the percentage of people age 65 and over with obesity has increased since 1988–1994. In 2011–2014, about 35 percent of people age 65 and over had obesity, compared with 22 percent in 1988–1994.


Health Care

  • Medicare paid for almost 60 percent of all health care costs of enrollees age 65 and over in 2012. Medicare financed all hospice costs and most hospital, physician, home health care, and short-term institution costs.

  • In 2013, about 3 percent of the Medicare population age 65 and over resided in community housing with at least one service available. About 4 percent resided in long-term care facilities. Among those age 85 and over, 8 percent resided in community housing with services, and 15 percent resided in long-term care facilities. Among those ages 65–74, about 98 percent resided in traditional community settings.

  •  In 2014, about 1.2 million people age 65 and over were residents of nursing homes. Nearly 780,000 people of that age lived in residential care communities such as assisted living facilities. In both settings, people age 85 and over were the largest age group among residents. 



  • The proportion of leisure time that older Americans spent socializing and communicating such as visiting friends or attending or hosting social events declined with age.

  • In 2013, about 33 percent of the non-institutionalized Medicare population age 65 and over limited their driving to daytime because of a health or physical problem.


Special Feature “Informal caregivers”

Informal caregivers are family members or friends who are not paid and assist older adults who have functional limitations with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, preparing a meal, or managing money. Informal caregivers are a diverse population that includes spouses, children, and other relatives such as daughters-in-law, grandchildren, and friends.

  • In 2011, an estimated 18 million informal caregivers provided 1.3 billion hours of care on a monthly basis.

  • More informal caregivers were women (11.1 million) than men (6.9 million), and about half of informal caregivers were middle-aged (ages 45–64).

  • Almost half of informal caregivers were a child of the care recipient. Although spouses made up only 21 percent of informal caregivers, they accounted for more than 31 percent of the total hours of informal care provided.

  • Some types of care provided differ by caregiver gender. For example, men were more likely to provide assistance with mobility, whereas women were more likely to assist with self-care and medical care.

  • Most informal caregivers reported positive impacts of caregiving; however, almost half said they have things they cannot handle or do not have enough time for themselves.


Let Daily Care help find the best health care providers to support both you and your loved ones.

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