Census: “Oldest Old” Population to Quadruple, More Need for Skilled Nursing

The population of 90+ Americans is projected to more than quadruple over the course of the next four decades, Census data released this week states. That population nearly tripled over the past 30 years to reach 1.9 million in 2010, comprising 4.7% of the overall population. The growing demographic has strong implications for senior housing providers and skilled nursing in particular, the Census report indicates.

“Traditionally, the cutoff age for what is considered the ‘oldest old’ has been age 85,” said Census Bureau demographer Wan He, “but increasingly people are living longer and the older population itself is getting older. Given its rapid growth, the 90-and-older population merits a closer look.”

The proportion of those in the 90+ demographic who live in skilled nursing facilities is roughly 20% for those in their lower 90s and upwards of 30% for those in their upper 90s, the report states. “An older person’s likelihood of living in a nursing home increases sharply with age,” it says. The proportion is nearly 40% for centenarians. Additionally, those who are 90 or older are almost universally covered by health insurance, at 99.5% of the population.


Aside from a need for skilled nursing care, Census statistics gathered on the 90+ population those in the age group who live in households are also very likely to need assistance with everyday activities.

View the Census report: 90+ in the United States 2006-2008.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker