You might be tired of hearing about the aging of the advisor population, but you shouldn’t be tired of hearing about your aging clients. That’s why a June report by the Census Bureau is so important. The report — 65+ in the United States: 2010, part of the Bureau’s Current Population Reports series of publications — is based on the 2010 census and sheds light on the changing nature of the over-65 population in the country.
Here are some headline numbers:
Between the prior census in 2000 and 2010, the percentage of the older population using the Internet rose from 14.3 percent to 44.8 percent. While lower than the 75.8 percent of Americans age 3 to 64 who reported using the Internet, the Bureau notes that the “31 percentage-point gap in Internet usage between the older population and the younger population in 2010 was smaller than in any year in the previous decade.”
Of Internet users age 65 and older, 89 percent said they used it for email, 62 percent read news online and 40 percent did their banking online. The older population also had “the largest growth rate in the use of broadband between 2009 and 2010.”
Causes of death
At 26.5 percent, heart disease remained the leading cause of death for those over 65 in the 2010 Census, though that was down considerably from the 33 percent of deaths caused by heart disease in 2000.
Cancer remained the second leading cause of death (22.1 percent in 2010; 21.8 percent in 2000), followed by chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s, which at 4.6 percent was up significantly from 2010, when at 2.6 percent it was the seventh-largest cause of death for over 65s.
The 2010 World Alzheimer Report estimates that the worldwide annual cost of Alzheimer’s was $604 billion that year, mostly in North America and Western Europe. The Alzheimer’s Association projects that by 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S. will more than triple, from 5 million to 16 million.
The 2010 Census found that 71.7 percent of men age 65 and over were married and living with their spouse, compared with only 42.4 percent of women. That’s partly because 39.9 percent of women aged 65 and over were widowed, compared with 12.7 percent of older men who were widowers. However, a closer look shows an actual decline in the percentage of both men and women over 65 who were widowed over the past 50 years: for men, from 18.8 percent in 1960 to 12.7 percent in 2010; for women, from 52.9 percent in 1960 to 39.9 percent in 2010.
The decline was steepest — almost 50 percent — among the “younger old,” those ages 65 to 74, for both men and women.
Why? One reason is increased longevity, but the other is a significant rise in divorce among the younger old. (For a comprehensive look at what the growth of divorce means for advisors, see Investment Advisor’s September 2012 cover story, The Graying of Divorce.)
The big picture
Now let’s turn to the bigger picture. Thirteen percent of Americans, or 40.3 million, were 65 and older as of 2010, and the Bureau estimates (from its 2012 National Population Projections) that those numbers will grow to 83.7 million, or 20.9 percent of the population, by 2050.