In 2006, there were 37.2 million adults aged 65 and older in the United States, representing 12.4 percent of the total population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the older population is expected to grow to 72 million by 2030, representing approximately 20 percent of the population, due to the aging of the baby boom generation. In 2006, older women composed 7.2 percent of the total population while men accounted for 5.2 percent. Women represented a larger proportion of the elderly population than men within every age group.
More than 40 percent of women aged 65 or older were married and living with a spouse in 2006, while another 38.4 percent lived alone. Research has suggested that older adults who live alone are more likely to live in poverty, which has numerous health implications. Another 8.8 percent of older women were heads of their household (with no spouse present), while 8.6 percent were living with relatives.
Employment plays a significant role in the lives of many older Americans. In 2006, more than 2.2 million women aged 65 years and older were working, accounting for 10.3 percent of women in this age group. Nearly 18 percent of women aged 65–74 years were employed during 2006, while only 3.5 percent of women aged 75 and older were employed. Less than 0.5 percent of women aged 65 and older were unemployed and looking for work (data not shown).