40% of Seniors Report Disability, Census Report Shows

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report “Older Americans With a Disability: 2008–2012,” almost 40% of people ages ≥65 had at least one disability, of which two-thirds reported difficulty in walking or climbing. 

The report evaluated disability status by age, sex, and specific socioeconomic characteristics (eg, marital status, living arrangement, educational attainment, poverty status).

The second-most reported disability was difficulty with independent living (eg, visiting the doctor’s office or shopping), followed by serous difficulty in hearing, cognitive difficulty, difficulty bathing or dressing, and serious difficulty seeing. Southern counties, such as central Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta, reported high disability rates.

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Other key findings from the report are as follows:

  • More than half of the older population who had not graduated from high school had a disability, twice the rate of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • More than one-third of those ages ≥85 with a disability lived alone, compared with one-fourth of those ages 65–74.
  • About 13% of the older household population with a disability lived in poverty; in contrast, 7% of those without a disability were in poverty.
  • The older population with a disability was disproportionately concentrated among those ages ≥85.
  • Women ages ≥65 were more likely than men ages ≥65 to have five of the six types of disability included in the American Community Survey, especially ambulatory difficulty.
  • Disability rates were lower for married older people than for those widowed or in other categories of marital status.

For more information visit Census.gov.