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A profile of the nation’s older adult population reveals trends that will affect senior living providers, showing that the older adult population is growing rapidly, that people are living longer but are not necessarily healthier, and that the population reflects the diversity of the nation as a whole.

The Administration on Aging, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, released the “2023 Profile of Older Americans” last month, relying primarily on US Census Bureau data to provide a snapshot of the nation’s aging population.

Older adults represented 17.3% of the US population in 2022, more than one in every six Americans, a 35% increase since 2012. Projections are that the group will comprise 22% of the population by 2040.

Between 2012 and 2022, the number of Americans 60 and older increased by 29%. In 2022, 88,988 living people had lived 100 or more years, more than double the 32,194 centenarians alive in 1980.

The 85-and-older population is projected to more than double from 2022 to 2040, going from 6.5 million to 13.7 million in that time, a 111% increase. 

Challenges arise in aging

Those figures reflect the growing life expectancy in the United States, but more years doesn’t necessarily come with good health, according to the report. 

In 2022, people reaching 65 had an average life expectancy of an additional 18.9 years, an increase from 18.4 years in 2021. And life expectancy at birth increased by 1.1 years, from 76.4 years in 2021 to 77.5 years in 2022.

But 24% of older adults rated their health as fair or poor. Leading chronic conditions among older adults included hypertension (59%), arthritis and high cholesterol (48% each), cancer (26%) and diabetes (20%).

The older adult population also is becoming more diverse, according to the report. 

People aged 65 or more years who identified as members of racial and ethnic minority populations increased from 21% in 2012 to 25% in 2022. That number is projected to increase to 34% in 2040.

Most older adults who identified as racial or ethnic minorities said they were Asian or American Indian / Alaska Natives (14% each), followed by African American (13%), Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander (11%), Hispanic (8%) or multi-racial (6%).

Half of the nation’s older adults lived in nine states in 2022: California, Florida, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and Michigan. States with the highest percentage of older adults were Maine (23%), Florida (22%), Vermont (22%) and West Virginia (21%). In three states — Alaska (63%), Idaho (55%) and Delaware (51%) — the 65-and-older population increased by more than 50% between 2012 and 2022.  

In 2022, almost one in 10 older adults (10.2%) lived below the poverty level. Another 4.7% were classified as “near poor,” with incomes at or just above the poverty level. States and areas with the highest poverty rates in 2022 were Washington, DC (18.7%), West Virginia (15.6%), Oklahoma (15.4%), Mississippi (14.9%) and New Mexico (14.4%).