Geriatric Nursing Facts

According to the Administration on Aging, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services:

  • The population 65 years or older numbered 39.6 million in 2009, the latest year for which data is available. They represented 12.9 percent of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans.
  • Older women outnumber older men at 22.7 million older women to 16.8 million older men.
  • About 30 percent (11.3 million) of noninstitutionalized older people live alone (8.3 million women, 3 million men).
  • By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older people, almost twice their number in 2008.
  • In 2007, about 12.9 million people age 65 and older were discharged from short-stay hospitals. This is a rate of 3,395 for every 10,000 people age 65+ which is about three times the comparable rate for people of all ages (which was 1,149 per 10,000).
  • The average length of stay for people age 65+ was 5.6 days; the comparable rate for people of all ages was 4.8 days.
  • In 2009, almost all (93.5%) non-institutionalized people 65+ were covered by Medicare.

According to an Institute of Medicine report, the geriatric population uses:

  • 26 percent of physician office visits
  • 35 percent of hospital stays
  • 34 percent of prescriptions
  • 38 percent of EMS responses


  • 80 percent have a chronic illness
  • Less than 1 percent of nurses and pharmacists specialize in geriatrics

The American Nurses Credentialing Center highlights the lack of nurses trained in geriatric skills:

  • More than 157,200 registered nurses have completed a master’s level program to become certified nurse specialists (CNS), nurse practitioners (NPs), or both.
  • Only 3 percent of all advanced practice nurses (CNS and NP) are certified in geriatric nursing.
  • 25 percent of nursing programs in this country lack a gerontological faculty member.