Census Bureau: Nursing Home Population Down 20%

While the share of those living in skilled nursing facilities declined 20% from 2000 to 2010, other care settings, such as assisted living facilities saw an uptick in residency, the latest U.S. Census Bureau report shows.

In 2000, 4.5% of those 65 and older resided in skilled nursing facilities, compared to 3.1% in 2010. Among Medicare enrollees residing in long-term care facilities, the proportion living in an assisted living facility increased from 15% in 1992 to nearly a quarter in 1998. The data, released in June, tracks population movement through 2010. 

But as baby boomers age, the number of seniors in nursing facilities may grow, data indicates.


“The share of the older population residing in nursing facilities rises progressively at older age groups, from .9% for the population aged 65 to 74, to 3.2% for those aged 75 to 84, and to 11.2% for those aged 85 and over,” the Census Bureau says, adding that In addition to those residing in skilled nursing facilities, another 2.4% of older people resided in senior housing facilities that offered one or more special support services. 

The first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, and so as those seniors age the population is slated to experience a population aging boom over the next two decades, which points a future increase in skilled nursing residency.

“People aged 90 and over are more likely to live in skilled-nursing facilities/nursing homes and to have a disability than those aged 85 to 89 or those of other, younger age groups within the 65-and-over population,” the Census Bureau says.


Changing marital trends also play a role in seniors’ needs. With the rise in divorces, as well as the increase in living alone among the 65-and-over population, the social support needs of aging baby boomers will change.

However, researchers note some seniors cannot afford the rising cost of nursing and assisted living facilities.

From 2005 to 2011, the cost of nursing home care and assisted living facilities rose by 4.4% annually, compared with just 1.4% annually for home health aides. Less than one-fifth of older people have enough personal resources to live in a nursing home for more than three years, and almost two-thirds cannot afford even 1 year.

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The report, “65+ in the United States: 2010,” can be accessed here.  

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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