The Elder Index is a county-specific measure of the minimum income necessary to cover all of an older adult’s basic expenses—housing, food, medical care and transportation. It provides a complete picture of what it takes for seniors to make ends meet in each of California’s 58 counties and nationwide in an expanding number of states. The Elder Index shows that 1.46 million (39%) of older Californians who are not “poor,” as defined by the official Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPL), still do not have enough income to meet their basic needs.
The FPL, which is often used to determine eligibility for public programs and state and local funding levels, is a four decades old measure that is the same dollar amount across the country: $10,830 in 2009 for a one-person household. The FPL is so low because it is based entirely on the cost of a bare-bones food diet—failing to account for local housing, transportation and, most importantly, medical costs, which can be particularly debilitating for the elderly.
Download this report below to learn more:
“Older Adults Need Twice the Federal Poverty Level to Make Ends Meet in California”
Developed by UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, this policy brief provides a summary of the Elder Index for each county and spotlights how the tool is being used by leaders across California to improve the lives of older adults.
The Elder Index methodology was developed by WOW and the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and applied by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in California. It is calculated using the most current (2009), credible national and state data sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Geographically relevant data is used for each county in California, reflecting local market rates for housing, food, health care, transportation and other basic necessities.
In “Half A Million Older Californians Living Alone Unable to Make Ends Meet,” the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development used the Elder Index to quantify, for the first time, how many seniors are struggling in each California county, as well as who is struggling the most by age, race, gender, and housing type. This policy brief reveals that a staggering number of California elders (1.76 million) are unable to cover the cost of their most basic needs.
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development also released data that reveal in-home long term care costs are far more than most California seniors can afford.
“Elders Living on the Edge: The Impact of California Support Programs When Income Falls Short in Retirement” offers an overview of housing, nutrition, health care, and income policies that help California's elders achieve basic economic security. It was written by Wider Opportunities for Women in collaboration with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
To find out how much income is needed for elders to make ends meet in your county, and which elders are struggling the most, click here.