HEALTH STATUS > SPECIAL POPULATIONS

OLDER WOMEN

There are 20.8 million women age 65 and older living in the U.S. These older women are more likely to be living alone (40 percent) than older men (19 percent). The pattern of living arrangement varies by race and ethnicity with 2 percent of older non-Hispanic White women living alone, compared to 39 percent of Black women, 22 percent of Hispanic women, and 19 percent of Asian women. Variation also occurs in the likelihood of an older woman to be living with a non-spousal relative with non-Hispanic White women being the least likely to live with relatives other than a spouse (7 percent), compared to 13 percent of Black women, 25 percent of Hispanic women, and over 35 percent of Asian women. The proportion of elderly women living with a spouse or with nonrelatives did not vary substantially across racial/ethnic groups. Racial and ethnic differences are evident in the leading causes of death for women aged 65 and older. While heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular diseases are the three leading causes of death for all racial/ethnic groups, diabetes is the 4th leading cause for women in all groups except non-Hispanic Whites. Among non-Hispanic Whites, Alzheimer’s Disease is the 5th leading cause, but this ranks 9th for Black and American Indian women, 10th for Asian women, and 7th for Hispanic women. Hypertension and hypertensive renal disease are among the top 10 leading causes of death for Black and Asian/Pacific Islander women, 10th for Blacks and 9th for Asian/Pacific Islanders, but is not among the top 10 for the population as a whole. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis is the 10th leading cause of death for American Indian women, but is not among the 10 leading causes in the general elderly female population.

Graph: Living Arrangements of Women Aged 65 and Over[d]

Graph: Rank of  Leading Causes of Death Among Women Aged 65 and Older[d]