By Al Norman

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a new report called 65+ in the United States: 2010. Here are some of the key findings from this report:

•In 2010, there were 40.3 million people aged 65+ in America — 12 times more than in 1900.

•The percentage of the population aged 65+ among the total population increased from 4.1 percent in 1900 to 13 percent in 2010 and is projected to reach 20.9 percent by 2050.

•Eleven states had more than 1 million people aged 65+ in 2010.

alnorman_headshot•Massachusetts had one of the lowest percentage increases in 65+ population in the nation between 2000 and 2010 — a 4.9 percent increase. But at 902,724 people over 65, Massachusetts had 44 percent of all the seniors in New England. A total of 146,961 people age 65+ were added to the New England population in the first decade of the 21st century.

•By 2030, when all baby boomers will have already passed age 65, there will be fewer than three people of working age (20 to 64) to support every older person.

•In 2010, Alzheimer’s disease was the fifth leading cause of death among the older population, up from seventh position in 2000. The death rate for Alzheimer’s rose more than 50 percent from 1999 to 2007.

•Over 38 percent of those aged 65+ had one or more disabilities in 2010, with the most common difficulties being walking, climbing stairs and doing errands alone.

•The share of the elders residing in skilled nursing facilities declined from 4.5 percent in 2000 to 3.1 percent in 2010.

•Medicaid funds for long-term care have been shifting away from nursing homes with funding for home- and community-based services increasing from 13 percent of total funding in 1990 to 43 percent in 2007.

•Labor force participation rates rose between 2000 and 2010 for both older men and older women, reaching 22.1 percent for older men and 13.8 percent for older women.

•Many older workers managed to stay employed during the recession. In fact, the population aged 65+ was the only age group not to see a decline in their employment share from 2005 to 2010. In 2010, 16.2 percent of the population aged 65 and over were employed, up from 14.5 percent in 2005.

•People age 65+ saw a rise in divorces, as well as an increase in living alone, both of which will likely alter the social support needs of aging baby boomers.

•The population aged 65+ was the only age group to see an increase in voter participation in the 2012 presidential election compared with the 2008 presidential election.

•In 2010, Internet usage among the older population was up 31 percent from a decade prior.

So there are more seniors around, they are getting more home care and less nursing home care, they are on the Internet more, they are retiring less, staying in the workforce longer, and more often living alone. All of these statistics have implications for who will need care, and the growing demand for care at home. But the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask Americans if they care about any of these trends. Measured by policy initiatives in Massachusetts that focus on the elderly, I would say that nobody is watching these numbers at all.

Al Norman is the executive director of Mass Home Care. He can be reached at info@masshomecare.org.