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Population - Adults Ages 65+
Population - Adults Ages 65+ in United States
United States

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Population - Adults Ages 65+ in depth:

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General Population

Population - Adults Ages 65+ by State

Percentage of population ages 65 and older

Population - Adults Ages 65+ Trends

Percentage of population ages 65 and older

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Population - Adults Ages 65+

About Population - Adults Ages 65+

US Value: 16.8%

Top State(s): Maine: 21.7%

Bottom State(s): Utah: 11.7%

Definition: Percentage of population ages 65 and older

Data Source and Years: CDC WONDER, Single-Race Population Estimates, 2021

Suggested Citation: America's Health Rankings analysis of CDC WONDER, Single-Race Population Estimates, United Health Foundation,, accessed 2023.

The age distribution of the United States is shifting. According to 2021 data, more than 55.8 million adults ages 65 and older live in the U.S., accounting for about 16.8% of the nation’s population. By 2040, that proportion is projected to grow to 22%. When the last of the baby boomer generation ages into older adulthood in 2030, estimates suggest there will be more than 73.1 million older adults living in the U.S. 

The demographics of the older adult population are also evolving. Historically, more women than men have lived past age 65. While this trend will likely continue, the age gap between men and women is expected to shrink in the coming decades. The older adult population will also become more racially and ethnically diverse: By 2040, it is expected that racial and ethnic minorities will make up 34% of the population ages 65 and older, after increasing from 20% to 24% between 2010 and 2020. A larger proportion of older adults live in rural areas compared with urban areas, and the median age of the suburban population is rising swiftly. 

In 2021, 10.6 million older adults were in the labor force and in 2020 the median annual income for an older adult was $26,668 ($35,808 for men and $21,245 for women). The major health problems facing the older adult population are changing as well. The baby boomer generation has higher rates of obesity and chronic conditions than previous generations, which will likely change the amount and type of care they require. In general, older adults face more complex health challenges than younger populations. These may include developing aging-related chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease or Alzheimer's disease, as well as challenges with finding their next meal, living safely in their home, getting enough sleep at night and accessing medical care

Caring for older adults can be challenging. In 2020, there were an estimated 53 million caregivers in the U.S., about half of whom were taking care of a parent or parent-in-law. Most caregivers of older adults are spouses or adult children, but decreasing fertility and marriage rates and increasing divorce rates mean that many baby boomers will not have partners or children who can help them continue to live independently as they age. This will put new and unique stresses on the health care system and challenge how our society currently cares for older adults.

AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. “Caregiving in the United States 2020.” Washington, D.C.: AARP, May 14, 2020.

Administration on Aging. “2021 Profile of Older Americans.” Administration for Community Living, November 2022.

Montero, Alex, Audrey Kearney, Liz Hamel, and Mollyann Brodie. “Americans’ Challenges with Health Care Costs.” KFF, July 14, 2022.

Smith, Amy Symens, and Edward Trevelyan. “The Older Population in Rural America: 2012–2016.” American Community Survey Reports. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018.

Suzuki, Keisuke, Masayuki Miyamoto, and Koichi Hirata. “Sleep Disorders in the Elderly: Diagnosis and Management.” Journal of General and Family Medicine 18, no. 2 (April 2017): 61–71.

Vespa, Jonathan, Lauren Medina, and David M. Armstrong. “Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060.” Current Population Reports. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau, February 2020.

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