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Tressa Nese and Helen Diskevich
Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence

What guides our mission

Older adults in America are a vibrant and growing part of our country and the state of Pennsylvania. Various factors impact their quality of life and healthcare experiences. They also experience unique challenges to their economic well-being, health, and independence.

More than one in every seven Americans is an older adult (65 years of age and older).

  • People age 65 and older represented 16% of the United States population in the year 2018 but are expected to grow to be 21.6% of the population by 2040.
  • Over the past 10 years, the population age 65 and older increased from 38.8 million in 2008 to 52.4 million in 2018 (a 35% increase) and is projected to reach 94.7 million in 2060.
  • The number of older Americans has increased by 13.7 million (or 35%) since 2008, compared to an increase of 4% for the under-65 population.
  • The 85 and older population is projected to more than double from 6.5 million in 2018 to 14.4 million in 2040 (a 123% increase).
  • In 1900, life expectancy was 47.3 years. A child born in 2018 could expect to live 78.7 years, more than 30 years longer!

Older adult women outnumber men of the same age, 29.1 to 23.3 million respectively in 2018.

The older adult population in the U.S. is increasingly more diverse.

  • Racial and ethnic minority populations of older adults have increased from 19 % (7.5 million in 2008) to 23% (12.3 million) in 2018, with projected increases to 34% (27.7 million) in 2040.
  • Currently, almost one-quarter of persons 65 years of age and older are members of racial or ethnic minorities.

Many older adults live alone.

  • As of 2019, about 28% (14.7 million) of older persons lived alone (5 million men and 9.7 million women). Among women age 75 and older, 44% lived alone.
  • In 2014, about 1.2 million people age 65 and over were residents of nursing homes and nearly 780,000 people of that age lived in residential care communities such as assisted living facilities.

The need for caregiving increases with age.

  • In 2018, the percentage of older adults age 85 and older who needed help with personal care (21%) was more than twice the percentage for adults ages 75–84 (8%) and five times the percentage for adults ages 65–74 (4%).
  • The 85 and older population is projected to more than double from 6.5 million in 2018 to 14.4 million in 2040 (a 123% increase).
  • In 2011, an estimated 18 million informal caregivers provided 1.3 billion hours of care on a monthly basis. • More informal caregivers were women (11.1 million) than men (6.9 million), and about half of informal caregivers were middle-aged (ages 45–64).
  • In 2013, about two-thirds of people who had difficulty with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs) received personal assistance or used special equipment: 7 percent received personal assistance only, 35 percent used equipment only, and 25 percent used both personal assistance and equipment

Over one-third of older adults have one or more chronic health conditions and/or disabilities.

  • 34% of people age 65 and older reported having some type of disability (i.e., difficulty in hearing, vision, cognition, ambulation, self-care, or independent living) in 2018.
  • Most older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions.
  • 8.5 million people age 65 and older stayed in a hospital overnight at least one night during 2018.

About half of all older adults in the U.S. reside in one of 9 states – and one of these is Pennsylvania!

  • There are 3.2 million adults age 60 years and older in Pennsylvania, which comprises over 25% of the state’s population.
  • PA is one of the most rural states in the U.S. and almost one-quarter of older adults reside in rural settings.

The information provided was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2019 Profile of Older Americans Report (published in 2020), and the 2016 Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well-Being report. For more information, visit the website:


Nese College of Nursing named a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence