Nearly 25% of Americans Over 85 Need Personal Care

It’s no secret that the need for caregiving services tends to grow with age, but a newly released report from the federal Administration for Community Living sheds light on just how many older adults in the U.S. need personal care.

The percentage of older adults age 85 and older needing help with personal care was 22% between January and June of last year. That’s more than twice the amount of people between the ages of 75 and 84 (9%) and more than six times the percentage of adults 65 to 74 (3%) who reported needing help with personal care during the same periodaccording to the “2017 Profile of Older Americans” report, which was published in April.

Those numbers are important because they show exactly how much of the aging U.S. population may need to move into a senior housing community, and at what age. Overall, the new report—sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Bureau of Labor Statistics—helps paint a more accurate picture of the nearly 50 million adults ages 65 or older living in the U.S.


A not-insignificant 35% of people age 65 and over in 2016 reported some type of disability, such as difficulty with hearing, vision, cognition, ambulation, self-care, or independent living. Specifically, 23% of older adults said they had ambulatory difficulties, while 15% reported difficulty with independent living. Another 8% said they had difficulty with self care.

The report also provides data on another key senior housing metric: older adults’ income.

Older Americans’ median income in 2016 was $31,618 for men and $18,380 for women. Roughly 5% of family households headed by an older adult had incomes less than $15,000, while 73% had incomes of $35,000 or more. The largest sources of income for older adults in 2015 were Social Security (84%), income from assets (63%), earnings (29%), private pensions (37%), and government employee pensions (16%).


Of people age 65 and over, 54% lived in just 10 U.S. states. California had the most adults 65 or older with 5.3 million, followed by Florida with 4.1 million; Texas, with 3.4 million; New York, with 3 million; and Pennsylvania, with 2.2 million. Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina and New Jersey also have a similarly large share of older Americans.

Meanwhile, the population of adults age 65 and over grew 50% or more between 2006 and 2016 in Alaska (66%); Nevada (57%); Colorado (55%); and Arizona (50%). This data suggests senior housing developers may want to target metro markets in those regions in the years to come.

Written by Tim Regan

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