Where We Age
Only 5 percent of Americans ages 65 and older live in group quarters like nursing homes. In recent years, this share has been steadily declining (based on 2008 American Community Survey data). Numbers do not total 100 due to rounding.
The aging of America is about to pick up speed. Next year, the first of 78 million baby boomers will turn 65. That means the number of seniors will more than double in coming decades -- in what's been dubbed a "silver tsunami."
One thing that's not expected to change: The overwhelming majority of the elderly will want to grow old in their own homes. Nine out of 10 seniors stay where they are when they retire, according to AARP.
While many elderly are in better health than previous generations, it will be a challenge to keep living independently as Americans also live longer than ever. This will be a societal challenge: The number of people ages 65 and older will grow from 13 percent of the current U.S. population to 20 percent by 2050, according to the U.S. Census. That's an even greater share of the population than seniors now make up in Florida.
In a series of reports, NPR explores the quiet revolution -- both high-tech and low -- that aims to make it easier for seniors to age at home.