The U.S Census Bureau released a report analyzing demographics of those who are at least ninety years old. Most of these elders relied heavily on Social Security with much higher rates of poverty than younger generations. Living arrangements also demonstrated that those ninety and older are more likely to live at home or with family caregivers.
The report 90+ in the United States: 2006-2008 analyzed data for the 90-and-older population and compared aspects of the data set to that of younger senior citizens. “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.” Since 1980, the ninety plus population has nearly tripled, to 1.9 million in 2010.
Social Security payments are nearly universal for this population, with 92.3 percent of those ninety and older receiving some sort of income from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Providing nearly half of their annual income on average, Social Security was also the primary source of income for many of those over ninety. Even with assistance from Social Security, those aged ninety or older often struggle financially. The annual median income is 14,760 dollars per year with men earning much more than women, 20,133 dollars annually versus 13,580 dollars annually. 14.5 percent of those ninety or older meet the official definition of poverty. These older individuals are poorer than other seniors. Seniors aged 65 and older had a poverty rate of 9.8 percent. Most of those aged ninety or older:
- Lived alone or with a family member, who likely took on caregiving tasks given that 80.8 percent of those ninety or older have some form of disability.
- About 37 percent of those aged ninety or older lived alone and 37.1 percent lived with family members.
- 2.9 percent lived in assisted living or other residential care options, while 22.7 percent lived in some form of institutionalized setting.
- Men were more likely to live with family, while women were more likely to live in skilled nursing, senior living communities, or alone.