The Older Population
There are 41,542 people age 60 and older residing in Broome County according to 2000 US Census figures. The elderly represent 20.7% of the total population of Broome County.
In New York State, those age 60 and older make up 16.9% of the total population. Broome County's population concentration of elders ranks 6th among the 63 counties of the state, including New York City.
Data from the 2000 Census indicates that during the 1990s, the total population of Broome County decreased from 212,160 to 200,536, a decline of 5.5%. During this same period, the age 60 and over population experienced a smaller decline of 542 individual, which was a decrease of 1.6%. There were, however, significant increases in the age 75 and above population. The age 75 and older population grew by 18.8% and the 85 and older age cohort increased by 32%.
In 2000, over one half (60%) of those age 70+ in the USA reported they were limited by chronic conditions. Among all elderly, 10.5% were unable to carry on a major activity of living.* Broome County has a comparable percentage of seniors limited by chronic conditions as reported in the Aging Futures Study, 1994.
*A Profile of Older Americans: 2000 Administration on Aging and AARP
In 2000, 6.8% of the population age 65 and older in Broome County, or 2,232 persons, lived below the poverty level; 11.3% of those aged 60 and older, or 3,715 persons, qualified as near poor. Near poor is defined as 125% of the poverty threshold. In 2000, the poverty threshold was defined as having an annual income of $8,240 for a person living alone, while near poor equaled a yearly income of $10,300.
In Broome County, 58% of the elderly age 65 and older rely on Social Security as their main source of income. Of those over age 65, 23% have Social Security as their only source of income.**
** Aging Futures Study: 1994
The (USA) older population will continue to grow significantly in the future. This growth slowed somewhat during the 1990s because of the relatively small number of babies born during the Great Depression of the 1930s. But the older population will burgeon between the years 2010 and 2030 when the "baby boom" generation reaches age 65.*
*A Profile of Older Americans: 1998 Administration on Aging and AARP
Racial and Ethnic Composition
Total number of minority elderly age 60 and over in Broome County is 1,023.
Elderly women are often more vulnerable in terms of economic and health status, and are more likely to live alone than are elderly men. In Broome County, 58% of seniors age 60 and over and 65% of elderly age 75 and older are female.
If current trends within the elderly population continue, the future has serious implications for Broome County. As the very old, age 80 and older, increase in our population, there is a much greater chance that they will suffer from one or more debilitating chronic illnesses and diminished independence. People 85 and older also have an increased rate of poverty due to the extended period of time they receive a fixed income.
In Broome County, 31.7% of those age 65 or older reported having a self-care limitation or difficulty with physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying.* People with such limitations often have difficulty performing activities of daily living without some form of assistance.
The Broome County Office for Aging and the community need to plan, advocate and coordinate services for the elderly with the greatest economic and social needs. Every effort must also be taken to provide information and opportunities that promote healthy aging.
Increasing self-responsibility for wellness may be our most effective measure to ensure independence and health into the later years.
* US Census, 2000