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A Profile of Older Americans: 2003

Living Arrangements

Over half (53.6%) the older noninstitutionalized persons lived with their spouse in 2002. Approximately 10.2 million or 72% of older men, and 7.8 million or 40% of older women, lived with their spouse (Figure 3). The proportion living with their spouse decreased with age, especially for women. Only 28.8% of women 75+ years old lived with a spouse.****

About 30% (10.5 million) of all noninstitutionalized older persons in 2002 lived alone (7.9 million women, 2.6 million men). They represented 41% of older women and 18% of older men. The proportion living alone increases with advanced age. Among women aged 75 and over, for example, half (49.4%) lived alone (in 2000).

About 633,000 grandparents aged 65 or over maintained households in which grandchildren were present in 1997. In addition, 510,000 grandparents over 65 years lived in parent- maintained households in which their grandchildren were present. In 2000, almost 400,000 grandparents over 65 years old were the persons with primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.

While a relatively small number (1.56 million) and percentage (4.5%) of the 65+ population lived in nursing homes in 2000, the percentage increases dramatically with age, ranging from 1.1% for persons 65-74 years to 4.7% for persons 75-84 years and 18.2% for persons 85+. In addition, approximately 5% of the elderly lived in self-described senior housing of various types, many of which have supportive services available to their residents.

Figure 3: Living Arrangements of Persons 65+: 2002
Figure 3: Living Arrangements of Persons 65+: 2002
(Based on data from U.S. Bureau of the Census. See: March 2002 Current Population Survey Internet releases. See also: "America’s Families and Living Arrangements; Population Characteristics: June, 2001, Current Population Reports, P20-537” and “The 65 Years and Over Population: 2000, Census 2000 Brief, October, 2001” as well as other Census 2000 data and unpublished data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.)


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