NIH: The 90-Plus Population Is on the Rise in the U.S.

With characteristics distinct from those in the other older age groups

MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. population aged 90 years and older (90-plus) is increasing and has distinct characteristics, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health.

Wan He, and Mark N. Muenchrath, from the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington D.C., describe the demographics, health, and economic status of the 90-plus population in the United States using data from the 2006 to 2008 and the 2008 American Community Surveys.

The authors report that 720,000 and 1.9 million individuals were in the 90-plus group in 1980 and 2010, respectively. Of the 90-plus population, 84.7 percent have at least one physical limitation, including difficulties doing errands alone (affecting 67.7 percent) and difficulty performing mobility-related activities (66.3 percent). The likelihood of living in nursing homes increased with age, from 11.2 percent of those aged 84 to 89 years to 19.8 percent of those aged 90 to 94. Women outnumbered men in the 90-plus group and constituted 74.1 percent of that population. Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians constituted 88.1, 7.6, 4, and 2.2 percent of the 90-plus population, respectively. The 90-plus were almost universally covered by insurance, and had an annual median income of $14,760, which is higher for men than women ($20,133 versus $13,580). Social security represented 47.9 percent of total personal income.

"The information may be useful for future discussions among researchers and policy makers on whether the traditional cutoff age of 85 for 'oldest old' should be reconsidered, given the rapid growth of the 90-and-over population and their distinct characteristics," the authors write.

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