Research and Statistics for Seniors

To help you avoid “fake numbers” about senior life in the US, here we share statistics about seniors with links to trustworthy sources.

Also below are general links to top resources such as AARP and the Mayo Clinic for reliable information about senior issues.

General Statistics About Seniors

Who is a senior citizen? The age range depends on context: a Denny’s restaurant, a senior living community, a government aid form… But generally a senior citizen is age 65 or older. That’s the age range we use for the following general statistics about seniors.

    1. Approximately 47 million seniors live in the United States. We base this number on a 2017 census.gov estimate that about 325,600,000 people reside in the US and a 2014 estimate that about 14.5% of Americans are age 65 and older.
    2. The senior population will soon double. The Population Reference Bureau projects that in 2060 nearly 100 million Americans will be 65 or older. This reflects the senior population more than doubling over 40 years. According to the CDC the rapid expansion is explained by the size of the baby boom generation and the baby boomers’ long life spans.
    3. The average American life expectancy is 78 years. More precisely, for a child born in 2015 the average expected lifespan is 78.8 years according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
      For males born in 2015 the average life expectancy was 76.5 years. For females it was 81.2 years. Significant differences also correlate with income, region of the US and other demographics.

See Our Tips for Healthy Aging

  • If you reach age 80, you’ll likely stay awhile longer. Men and women who reach age 80 live another eight to 10 years on average according to the CDC.
  • Women still tend to outlive men, but their advantage is shrinking… for a preventable reason. Increasing rates of lung cancer in women mostly explain why the gender gap in mortality is shrinking.
  • Women in the US have always tended to live longer than the men in their respective demographic groups. A big reason is that women have been less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as playing with guns, riding motorcycles, working in coal mines, serving in combat… and smoking tobacco. The more that cigarette smoking has become socially acceptable for women, the more the gender gap in mortality has had reason to narrow.

About Cardiovascular Disease and Caregiving

  • The leading cause of senior injuries and death is falling down. The CDC reported in 2016 that in a given year about 25 percent of Americans age 65+ fall down, and that falling is the leading cause of senior injury and death.
    Preventive tactics against falls include keeping eyewear prescriptions up-to-date, exercising for balance, and keeping floors clutter-free. You can get helpful advice about preventing falls from the National Council on Aging.
  • Most seniors have more than one chronic health care issue. Recently the National Council on Aging found that 75 percent of seniors have at least one chronic health condition, and that most have two or more. Conditions range from mild arthritis to advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Many seniors never retire. Many people are working beyond the official retirement age. This is partly because most seniors haven’t saved enough money for a comfortable retirement, but it’s also because people enjoy working. In 2016 a Pew Research poll found that nearly 20 percent of seniors citizens hadn’t retired and were working full-time. The situation is more likely to be voluntary, according to Pew, when the person has a white collar job.
  • Only three percent of senior citizens live in nursing homes. The 2010 US census found that 3.1 percent of seniors were nursing home residents. Rather than move to a nursing home or assisted living, many seniors choose in-home care support.
  • Retirees can choose from about 5,000 continuing care retirement communities in the US. The exact figure in 2012 was 4,815. Some of these so-called senior communities cater to tenants as young as 50.
    The unique advantage of a continuing care retirement community is not needing to relocate if/when assisted care or skilled nursing care is needed.

Fun Statistics About Seniors

  1. It’s true about Florida. Older Americans do prefer Florida over other states for retirement. Three good reasons are warm weather, no income tax, and the fact that friends have chosen Florida too.
    In 2014 Florida had the highest percentage of senior residents at about 19 percent according to census.gov. The state with the lowest percentage of residents 65 and older is Alaska, which has about 9.5 percent seniors.
  2. North Dakota has the highest percentage of residents over age 100. That’s according to 2010 census data, which says there were just over three centenarians per 10,000 people.

The average North Dakotan doesn’t have an extraordinary life expectancy (and in some ND counties the life expectancy is very low) but the eldest residents tend to do well. Some explanations:

  • North Dakotans tend to have a strong sense of community; seniors are less likely to suffer from isolation.
  • Some residents are descended from especially hardy “stock.” In the 1800s immigrants traveled to the area on foot from states in the east.
  • Some residents have been physically active as farmers their whole lives.

For seniors overall, having access to healthcare, avoiding obesity and avoiding tobacco smoke seem to be most important for longevity.

  1. Seniors are traveling for fun. AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons) reported that in 2015 the average baby boomer planned to take four or five trips. Primary reasons for travel were escape, to be with family and friends, and to rejuvenate.

What sorts of trips to seniors tend to take?

  • Long weekend trips are especially popular and often include “bucket list” items such as visiting a particular US city or landmark.
  • Genealogical journeys are popular too. Ancestral research is increasingly common among US seniors who travel domestically and to Africa, Asia and Europe.
  • Multigenerational vacations are increasingly popular as travel agencies promote group deals for airfare and vacation rentals. Seniors, their children and grandchildren tend to meet at resorts, take cruises or rent private homes for family reunions.
  1. More than 50,000 Americans are age 100 or older. For the 2010 census the US government counted 53,364 people in this age group. On average .02 percent of a town’s residents are 100 or older.

On average centenarians are slightly more educated than others from their birth years. Most have been married and widowed. About 80 percent of centenarians are women.

  1. The tooth fairy makes unwanted calls. Risks of adult tooth loss are significantly different across the states. The 2013 State-by-State Report Card on Healthy Aging reports that in Utah and Connecticut, older adults are least likely to have lost many teeth; about 71 percent had lost five or fewer. The highest rate of adult tooth loss was in West Virginia with about 33 percent having lost five or fewer.
  2. About half the seniors 65 to 74 are sexually active. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that 53 percent of seniors ages 65 to 74 were sexually active. Their statistic for men and women ages 75 to 85 is less “fun” at 26% overall, and numbers were lower for women because many became widowed.
  3. About one in seven older men uses Viagra or a similar substance. Like the senior statistic above, this figure is from the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007. The study included 1455 men and 1550 women ages 57 to 85.
  4. About 12 percent of seniors use dating apps or dating websites. That’s according to a Pew Research study of social media use in 2015. For comparison, about 27 percent of adults overall had used online dating.

One popular dating site exclusively for seniors is operated by AARP. Another is OurTime.com. Stitch.net is especially popular among seniors who can afford high membership fees and seek dates in their travel destinations.

Mainstream dating apps with significant populations of seniors are Match and OK Cupid.

  1. About half of seniors use Facebook. Pew Research reported in 2013 that 45 percent of American adults 65 and older used Facebook, and the number is likely up to 50 percent or more by now. The popularity of the platform was especially increasing among this demographic.
  2. The oldest known age for a new Facebook member is 105. ABC News reported in early 2013 that Edythe Kirchmaier had recently become Facebook’s oldest registered user. She was also California’s oldest licensed driver at the time. In 2014 she posted:

Age is an issue of mind over matter.

If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter..

Do you know someone who could take the title of Oldest New Facebook User this year? Maybe give them a lesson or two in using social media. Kirchmaier got online with some help from her friends.

Trustworthy Resources

The following websites are authorities about US health, housing and other issues as they relate to seniors.

General

AARP is an advocacy group and a top general resource for seniors in the US. The acronym stands for “American Association of Retired Persons” but this nonprofit group serves older Americans whether they’ve retired or not.

  • Website visitors can find a wealth of AARP information about seniors and employmentpoliticsmenu planning and other topics.
  • AARP members are eligible for discounts on products and services ranging from restaurant meals to AAA roadside assistance.

Another popular general reference is the National Council On Aging (NCOA). Two areas in which the site is especially helpful are economic security and healthy aging.

Health

The Centers for Disease Control is a federal agency that works to protect Americans of all ages against health threats. Visitors can find useful CDC information about seniors in terms of disease statistics, immunizations for travelmotor vehicle safety and more.

A 2013 PDF from the CDC is especially about aging and health in America. It provides statistics about seniors and other information to help communities promote the health and wellbeing of older adults. This report highlights mobility as fundamental to healthy aging.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota is an excellent online resource for information about disease prevention, symptoms and treatments.

References for some specific types of diseases include:

Also see our Health page for detailed information and links about common chronic conditions.

Housing

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a useful housing resource for many seniors. Not just for people in urban areas, the website has resources for suburban and rural seniors too. Visit to learn about these and other senior housing issues:

See our Housing page to learn about different types of housing especially for Americans 50+.

Our Research

What is Rich?

Skimming through the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, there’s no denying each and every one of those zeros adds up to equal a label of “rich.” Even among the top earners in America, net worth varies tremendously. But when we broaden the scope and look at the country as a whole, incomes have…

Substance Abuse is Getting Old: How Addiction is Becoming a Risk to Seniors

Addiction and substance abuse are serious problems for many senior citizens, and in a good number of cases, they’re nothing new. In fact, about two-thirds of seniors who grapple with these issues have done so since a younger age. Conversely, about one-third developed these struggles at age 65 or older. This guide focuses on prevention…

Exploring the Best Places For 55+ Residents

Imagine being able to go to bed whenever you want, wake up whenever you want, and dedicate as much time to your passions and hobbies as there are hours in the day. As you move toward retirement and your golden years, these are the kinds of leisurely pursuits that could await you. And while being…

Giving Or Taking? An Analysis Of How Seniors Across America Contribute To The Economy

More than 90 million Americans are of an age where they can ask for senior discounts at restaurants, and the American population as a whole is getting older and older: Those 55 and older are the largest age group in the United States today.   As more Americans reach retirement age (and if the average…

Germs on Your Phone

We live in a world connected by smartphones – some of which are becoming more and more like full-service computers that fit perfectly in the palm of our hand. With the average American checking their phone 80 times per day and people actually developing separation anxiety from their devices, knowing the risks that come along…

Making the World Safer for Aging Adults

As your parents get older, you start worrying more. Maybe your mother fell last week, and your father couldn’t help her up. She seems okay and so does he, but what about the next time she falls? What if you found out these falls don’t have to happen? That might seem impossible, but virtually all…

Veterans Care Guide

Individuals who serve within the United States Military may qualify for certain monetary and medical benefits through the US Office of Veterans Affairs. These may include a monthly financial pension, Aid & Attendance, Housebound benefits and/or Specially Adapted Housing grants. This guide is designed to help veterans and/or their surviving spouses determine their eligibility, explain…

Elder Scams

Scammers tend to target elderly people with all kinds of schemes, taking advantage of their isolation, ease of trust, higher savings, and lack of tech savvy, among other things. Unfortunately, these scams often work. Advanced technology can be hard for many seniors to keep up with, and they may be viewed as naive or gullible….

Life Goals

Astronaut. Teacher. Engineer. Doctor. No matter how old you are – or how lofty your dreams may be – goal setting is often regarded as one of the fundamental keys to success. Experts say goals help trigger the kinds of behavior it takes to bring dreams into fruition, and no matter what you’re trying to…

Relationship Lessons

In life, experience begets wisdom, and wisdom informs good decisions. Whether we choose to turn to our elders for advice or entrust the citizens of the internet with our burning questions, one thing is for sure: When it comes to navigating the intricacies of romantic relationships, two heads are often better than one. Reddit is…

What We Find Offensive on TV

“Fake news” has renewed a discussion as old as TV itself: How might the media we watch influence our behaviors and decisions? TV has certainly changed with the times, but how much has media kept up with an evolving America? If you’re worried that the media influences the way you and others make decisions, then…

Parental Practices Analyzed

When it comes to raising a child, there is no one right way to do it. There are multiple parenting styles, and it is up to parents to decide when, where, and how they want to broach certain topics with their children. Cigarettes, drugs, politics, staying home alone – parents must dance a fine line…

Everybody Poops and Farts

Have you ever been in public and realized you needed to break wind? Maybe you were alone with a significant other and accidentally let one out. Or were at a friend’s house and had to go to the bathroom – only to realize it wasn’t “number one”? Everybody farts, and everybody poops. In fact, the…

Would You Want To Know

In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie famously underwent a double mastectomy. In 2015, she followed that surgery by electing to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. In the midst of these difficult decisions, she publicly revealed the results of a blood test which showed a genetic predisposition to the cancers that took her mother’s life. Despite…

Germs in Public Restrooms

Public bathrooms get a bad rap. Graffitied gas station toilets, rows of shopping mall stalls, and fast-food chain washrooms with flickering lights are seen as last-resort options to most. Modern-day outhouses, if you will. We know what goes on in the privacy of a bathroom, and when you multiply that by dozens of patrons and…

Where The Healthiest Seniors Roam

As the population of American seniors continues to climb, the country’s medical community confronts new opportunities and challenges related to their care. The number of individuals aged 65 and older is projected to double in the coming decades, reaching over 98 million by 2060. And while these older Americans are living longer than ever before,…

PTSD Among Aging Adults

Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD, can happen to people of all ages. It is especially a common issue among aging adults because they have a more likely chance to have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. Examples of traumatic events that could lead to PTSD include military combat, a bad…

Transportation for Seniors

As people age, it inevitably becomes harder to get around independently. This is especially the case if medical issues requiring special attention are involved. The good news is, there are actually plenty of ways for seniors to travel locally, nationally, and internationally. First and foremost, elders who no longer feel comfortable driving or cannot drive…

Act Your Age

When we’re young, growing older brings access to new activities. From driving a car to having a beer, birthdays expand our privileges. But as we age, we often fear the opposite – that our years will disqualify us from the pastimes of our youth. By society’s standards, when are we too old to party like…

Guide to Hiring the Right Senior Caregiver

Finding and managing in-home assistance can be a time-consuming and stressful venture for aging adults and their families. Many elders requiring long-term care rely on family members to help them, but approximately one-third of seniors get help from paid caregivers. With so many different options and places to look for the perfect caregiver, it may…

Government Aid

As we age and enter into our elderly years, it can become significantly harder to take care of all the bills, get health checkups regularly, consume enough nutritious foods, and do other day to day activities. It can be debilitating, physically and emotionally, to feel there is no help or relief from it all. Thankfully,…

Disaster Preparedness

Natural disasters are not fun for anyone. Unfortunately, they can be especially traumatizing for seniors. Older people are more frail and less mobile, making it a challenge for them to respond quickly. They may not always have the help they need immediately when they need it to escape a danger zone. The thought is frightening,…

Preventing Elder Abuse

Today, many elders are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in a plethora of ways. Unfortunately, an excess of these cases go unreported and unnoticed to the public. With that said, it is important to address the topic to prevent elder abuse from becoming more prevalent. This guide will address the different types of elder abuse,…

Positively Aging

The number of retirement-age people across the world is growing. In the U.K., residents over the age of 65 will account for nearly 1 in 3 people by 2050, and by the same time in the U.S., the number of Americans over the age of 65 will increase by 27 percent. In some ways, people…

My Parents Vs My Parenting

With the introduction of social media to modern life, it appears everybody has an opinion, even when it comes to how we choose to raise a child. The internet can also provide vastly more resources, with an influx of things like mommy bloggers. This begs the obvious question: Have we become better parents over time?…