About This Report
Older Americans 2004: Key Indicators of Well-Being (Older Americans 2004)
is the second in a series of reports produced by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics
(Forum)that describe the overall status of the U.S. population age 65 and over. This report
provides Federal statistics from over a dozen national data sources to monitor
several important areas in the lives of older Americans -- population,
economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care.
The Forum has once again
collaborated to update and expand the comprehensive set of indicators that
first appeared in Older Americans 2000: Key
Indicators of Well-Being (Older Americans 2000). This series of reports
provides the Nation with a broad summary of national indicators of well-being
for the U.S. population age 65 and over and monitors
changes in these indicators over time. By following these data trends, more
accessible information will be available to target efforts that can improve the
lives of older Americans.
Older Americans 2004 has added several new indicators to
provide a more complete picture of the health and well-being of older
Americans: sensory impairments and oral health; obesity; cigarette smoking; air
quality; prescription drugs; sources of health insurance; sources of payment
for health care services; and residential services. In addition to these new
indicators, this report has been expanded to highlight an important and rapidly
growing group of older Americans -- older veterans.
The Forum hopes that this
report will stimulate discussions by policymakers and the public,
encourage exchanges between the data and policy communities, and foster
improvements in Federal data collection on older Americans. By examining a
broad range of indicators, researchers, policymakers, service providers, and
the Federal Government can better understand the areas of well-being that are
improving for older Americans and the areas of well-being that require more
attention and effort.
Structure of the Report
Older Americans 2004 is designed to present data in a
nontechnical, user-friendly format; it complements other
more technical and comprehensive reports produced by the individual Forum
agencies. The report includes 37 indicators that are grouped into
five sections: Population, Economics, Health Status,
Health Risks and Behaviors, and Health Care. A list of the indicators included
in this report is located in the Table of Contents on page IX.
Each indicator includes:
- An introductory paragraph that describes the relevance of the indicator to the
wellbeing of the older population.
- One or more charts that graphically display analyses of the data.
- Bulleted highlights of salient findings
from the data and other sources. The data used to develop the indicators and
their accompanying bullets are presented in table format in Appendix A. Data
source descriptions are provided in Appendix B. A glossary is supplied in
Selection Criteria for Indicators
Older Americans 2004 presents 37 key indicators that measure
critical aspects of older people's lives. The Forum chose these
indicators because they are:
- Easy to understand by a wide range of audiences.
- Based on reliable, nationwide data (sponsored, collected, or disseminated by the Federal Government).
- Objectively based on substantial research that connects them to the well-being of older Americans.
- Balanced so that no single area dominates the report.
- Measured periodically (not necessarily annually) so that they can be updated as appropriate and show trends over time.
- Representative of large segments of the aging population, rather than one particular group.
Considerations When Examining the Indicators
Older Americans 2004generally addresses the U.S.
population age 65 and over. Mutually exclusive age groups (e.g., age 65-74, 7584, and 85 and over)
are reported whenever possible.
Data availability and analytical relevance may affect the specific age groups
that are included for an indicator. For example, because of small sample sizes in some surveys,
statistically reliable data for the population age 85 and over often are not available.
Conversely, data from the population younger than age 65 sometimes are included if they
are relevant to the interpretation of the indicator. For example, in "Indicator 11:
Participation in the Labor Force," a comparison with a younger population
enhances the interpretation of the labor force trends among people age 65 and over.
Because the older population is
becoming more diverse, analyses often are presented by sex, race and ethnic
origin, income, and other characteristics.
Updated indicators in Older
Americans 2004 are not always comparable to the original indicators in Older
Americans 2000. The replication of certain indicators with updated data is
sometimes difficult because of changes in data
sources, definitions, questionnaires, and/or
reporting categories. A comparability table is available on the Forum's
Web site at http://www.agingstats.gov to help readers understand the changes
that have taken place.
The reference population (the
base population sampled at the time of data collection) for each indicator is
clearly labeled under each chart and table and defined
in the glossary. Whenever possible, the indicators include data on the
U.S. resident population (i.e., people
living in the community and people living in institutions). However, some
indicators show data only for the civilian noninstitutionalized
population. Because the older population residing in nursing homes (and other
long-term care institutional settings) is excluded from samples based on the
noninstitutionalized population, caution should be
exercised when attempting to generalize the findings
from these data sources to the entire population age 65 and over. This is
especially true for the older age groups. For example in 2002, only 83 percent
of the population age 85 and over was included in the civilian noninstitutionalized population as defined
by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the charts, tick marks along
the x-axis indicate years for which data are available. The range of years
presented in each chart varies because data availability is not uniform across
the data sources. To standardize the time frames across the indicators, a
timeline has been placed at the bottom of each indicator that reports data for
more than one year.
Accuracy of the Estimates
Most data in this report are
based on a sample of the population and are, therefore, subject to sampling
error. Standard tests of statistical significance
have been used to determine whether the differences between populations exist
at generally accepted levels of confidence or
whether they occurred by chance. Unless otherwise noted, only statistically
class=SpellE>significant differences between estimates are
discussed in the text. To indicate the reliability of the estimates, standard
errors for selected estimates in the chartbook can be
found on the Forum's Web site at http://www.agingstats.gov.
Finally, the data in some indicators may not sum to totals because of rounding.
Sources of Data
The data used to create the
charts are provided in tables in the back of the report (Appendix A). The
tables also contain data that are described in the bullets below each chart.
The source of the data for each indicator is noted below the chart.
Descriptions of the data sources can be found in Appendix B. Additional information about these data
sources is available on the Forum's Web site at
Occasionally, data from another publication are included to give a more complete explanation of the indicator.
The citations for these sources are included in the References section (page
62). For those who wish to access the survey data used in this chartbook, contact information is given for each of the
data sources in Appendix B.
Because Older Americans 2004
is a collaborative effort of many Federal agencies, a comprehensive array of
data was available for inclusion in this report. However, even with all of the
data available, there are still areas where scant data exist. Although the
indicators that were chosen cover a broad range of components that affect
well-being, there are other issues that the Forum would like to address in the
future. These issues are identified in the Data
Needs section (page 59). By identifying and highlighting these data needs, the
Forum -- as well as other policymakers, researchers, and service
providers -- will be better able to focus their future efforts.
The Forum's mission is to
encourage cooperation and collaboration among Federal agencies to improve the
quality and utility of data on the aging population. To accomplish this
mission, the Forum provides agencies with a venue to discuss data issues and
concerns that cut across agency boundaries, facilitates the development of new
databases, improves mechanisms currently used to disseminate information on
aging-related data, invites researchers to report on cutting-edge analyses of
data, and encourages international collaboration.
The specific goals of the Forum are to improve both the quality and use of data on the aging
- Widening access to information on the aging population through periodic publications and other means.
- Promoting communication among data producers, researchers, and public policymakers.
- Coordinating the development and use of statistical databases among Federal agencies.
- Identifying information gaps and data inconsistencies.
- Investigating questions of data quality.
- Encouraging cross-national research and data collection on the aging population.
- Addressing concerns regarding collection, access, and dissemination of data.
The Forum members provide funds
and valuable staff time to support the activities of the Forum.
If you would like more
information about Older Americans 2004 or other Forum activities, contact:
Kristen Robinson, Ph.D.
Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics
3311 Toledo Road, Room 6227
Hyattsville, MD 20782
Phone: (301) 458-4460
Fax: (301) 458-4037
Web site: http://www.agingstats.gov
Older Americans on the Internet
An expanded version of this
report can be found at http://www.agingstats.gov.
The Web site version of the report contains:
- Continuously updated data tables (as the data become available).
- PowerPoint slides of the charts.
- Excel spreadsheets of all the data tables (some with standard errors).
- A comparability table explaining the changes to the indicators that have takenplace between Older Americans 2000 and Older Americans 2004.
- The Forum's Web site also provides:
- Ongoing Federal data resources relevant to the study of the aging.
- Past products of the Forum (including Older Americans 2000).
- Agency contacts.
- Subject area contact list for Federal statistics.
- Information about the Forum.
Additional Online Resources
- Administration on Aging
A Profile of Older Americans
Online Statistical Data on the Aging
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
AHRQ Data & Surveys
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
Bureau of Labor Statistics Data
- U.S. Census Bureau
Statistical Abstract of the United States
Local Employment Dynamics -- Aging and Pension Benefits
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Statistics and Data
- Department of Veterans Affairs
Veteran Data & Information
- Environmental Protection Agency
- National Center for Health Statistics
Data Warehouse on Trends in Health and Aging
Longitudinal Studies of Aging
Health, United States
- National Institute on Aging
NIA Centers on the Demography of Aging
National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging
- Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, HHS
Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy
- Office of Management and Budget
FedStats (Gateway to Federal Statistics)
- Social Security Administration
Social Security Administration Statistical Information
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