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What living past 90 looks like for most

U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT

2:04 PM EST, February 22, 2012

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Living to age 90 is a worthy goal Americans are increasingly meeting. The number of people age 90 and older almost tripled from 720,000 people in 1980 to 1.9 million in 2010, according to a new Census Bureau report. And the 90-plus population is expected to more than quadruple between 2010 and 2050.

"Traditionally, the cutoff age for what is considered the 'oldest old' has been age 85," says Wan He, a Census Bureau demographer and co-author of the report. But researchers are considering moving this definition back to age 90.

"With a rapidly growing percentage of the older population projected to be 90 and above in 2050, this report provides data for the consideration of moving that yardstick up to 90," says Richard Suzman, director of the National Institute on Aging's behavioral and social research division, which supported the report. "Because of increasing numbers of older people and increases in life expectancy at older ages, the oldest segments of the older population are growing the fastest."

Life in the United States after 90:

35 to 100 Over age 90, this is the ratio of men to women. After age 95, there is approximately one man for every four women.

6.3% of women over age 90 are married; 84 percent of women in this age group are widows. On the other hand, 43 percent of 90-something men are married and about half are widowers.

37% of people in their 90s live alone; 37 percent live in a household with others; and 26 percent live in institutionalized housing, such as a skilled-nursing facility.

White senior citizens were almost twice as likely to live alone as Asians and Hispanics.

85% of people age 90 and older report having one or more physical limitations, the Census Bureau found. The most common limitations include difficulty handling errands alone, such as visiting a doctor's office or shopping (68 percent), difficulty getting around by walking or climbing stairs (66 percent), and difficulty dressing or bathing (46 percent). Some seniors also report cognitive difficulties (40 percent), and difficulty hearing (43 percent) and seeing (26 percent).

$14,760 The annual median personal income for people age 90 and older between 2006 and 2008 (in 2008 inflation-adjusted dollars). Men had significantly higher incomes than women, $20,133 versus $13,580. Some 15 percent of the age 90-and-older population lives in poverty.

92% of people age 90 and up receive Social Security income. Social Security makes up almost half (48 percent) of all income for people in this age range. Some 18 percent of 90-somethings also receive traditional pension income.

99% of people age 90 and older are covered by health insurance provided by Medicare, and 28 percent also received Medicaid benefits in 2008. About 40 percent of the 90-and-older population bought additional private health insurance coverage from an insurance company. A quarter of these retirees are covered by health insurance provided by a previous employer or union.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services