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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Being Old And Black -- A Bad Combination According To These Statistics

There is no question about it; the population is getting older. What this means is that people are living longer, not just beyond 65 but beyond 85 and older. Providing proper housing and medicare care will become an ever-increasing need, especially among African-Americans who suffer from more medical conditions and not enough access to medical care.

More older blacks living alone

In 2011, African-Americans represented 9 percent (3.5 million) of all U.S. people age 65 and over. In addition, there were another 6,516 African Americans age 100 years and over and 23 percent of them lived alone. In fact, the percentage of older Black Americans living alone is higher than any other race groups. Older Black women, in particular, are living alone. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), thirty-nine percent of Black woman age 55 and older are living by themselves, and this is almost twice the number of older Asian women (21 percent) living alone.

More older blacks living in poverty

The NIH also reports that, in 2011, the poverty rate for older African-Americans age 65 and older was 17.3 percent. This is twice the rate for all older Americans (8.7 percent). While the median personal income for all Americans 65 and older was $27,707 for men and $15,362 for women, income for older African-Americans trailed behind, averaging $20,124 for men and $13,958 for women.

More older blacks lack access to medical care

Older blacks often suffer more from chronic illnesses; 85 percent have hypertension, 51 percent have arthritis, and 40 percent have diabetes -- twice as much as older Americans in general. Yet only 35 percent of older African Americans had both Medicare and supplementary private health insurance, compared to 53 percent of older adults in general.

What the future holds

In view of the calculated increase in the older population, especially among African-Americans, these discrepancies need to be addressed as soon as possible. The African-American older population age 65 and over is expected to increase to 12.4 million by 2060.

For more details about these statistics, visit
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