More older Americans are living on their own than ever before in the United States, according to a report released on Tuesday, but it’s mostly because they are more affluent and choose to do so.
The report finds the divorce rate for people over 65 has doubled since 1990, and that just 38 percent of widows and widowers move in with their children, compared with 70 percent 100 years ago.
“In 1950, only 10 percent of all Americans over age 65 lived alone. Today, a full third of older Americans live alone, a figure that rises to 40 percent for those 85 and older,” sociologist Eric Klinenberg of New York University and colleagues write in the report for the Council on Contemporary Families.
The practice is likely to accelerate with the graying of the baby boom generation, whose first members turned 65 last year, they wrote.
“Before Social Security, most widowed or unmarried elders had to move in with relatives or go to ‘rest homes’ because they simply could not afford otherwise,” the authors added. But they said that the poverty rate for the elderly has fallen from 35 percent in the 1950s to about 10 percent now.
They predict more and more older people will be living on their own, a finding that suggests that the demand for services such as in-home care will skyrocket. “By 2030 the number of people over sixty-five will double, while the number of those over eighty will nearly triple,” they wrote.