The latest census figures have come out and as many of us have predicted, one of the fastest growing segments of the population is the 90-plus group. The population over age 90 has tripled since 1980 and will continue to rise rapidly. According to census projections, by 2050 there will be more than 8 million Americans over age 90, quadrupling today’s numbers.
Advances in medical care for heart disease and stroke are behind the growth along with better nutrition and overall fitness. The census shows that people are living longer but the vast majority of the 90-plus crowd struggle with some form of disability such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis or diabetes. These chronic healthcare conditions make it difficult for people to properly care for themselves and have significant implications for our families and for society as a whole.
Other interesting facts from the census report:
Among the 90-plus population, women outnumber men by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1.
—Broken down by race and ethnicity, non-Hispanic whites made up the vast majority of the 90-plus population, at 88.1 percent. That’s compared to 7.6 percent who were black, 4 percent Hispanic and 2.2 percent Asian.
—Most people who were 90 or older lived in households alone, about 37.3 percent. Another 37.1 percent lived in households with family or others, while about 23 percent stayed in nursing homes. About 3 percent lived in assisted living or other informal care facilities.
—Those who were 90 or older had median income of $14,760, about half of which came from Social Security. About 14.5 percent of the age group lived in poverty, compared to 9.6 percent for Americans who are 65-89.
A 2009 Pew Research Center poll found that Americans, on average, would like to live to 89; the current life span is roughly 78. One in five people said they would like to live past 90, while 8 percent would prefer to pass 100.