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  Living Situation


Living alone is considered one of the greatest risk factors for increased vulnerability and unmet long-term care needs among older adults. Twenty-five percent (64,063) of Harris County adults 65 years old and older were living alone in 1999.  The frequency with which older women were living alone was almost four times that of their male counterparts.


Ø      In 2000, more than two-third (68%) of Harris County older adults 65 years and older were living in a family household setting (i.e., two-or-more person households) while 28% lived in a non-family household setting and 4.4% in group quarters.

Ø      The majority (52%) of those older adults who were living in a family household setting were the householder themselves. Others were living in a household where their spouse (30%), parent (11%), or other relatives (7%) or non-relatives are the householder. 

Ø      Of those living in a non-family household, the vast majority (92%) was living alone.

Ø      Of those living in group quarters, four-in-five (81%) were institutionalized quarters.


Poverty Status of Older Adults Living Alone


One in every five (20%) older adults 65 years old and over who were living alone had income below poverty level in 1999. Not surprisingly, poverty was more prevalent among female (21%) than male older adults (16%).


Poverty Status of Harris County Older Adults Who Were Living Alone by Gender


Living Alone

Below Poverty

Percentage in Poverty









Both Gender




Data Source: U.S. Census 2000



Many thanks to St. Luke's Episcopal Charities for providing the following maps that help tell the story of older adults living in Harris County.


Percent of People Over 65 Living in Crowded Conditions  (pdf)
According to census 2000, Harris County has 7.4 percent of its population in elders age 65 and older, as compared to the State of Texas with 9.9 percent. They live throughout the county. Pockets of high concentration of elders of 5.5- 14 percent of the population of zip codes are located in The near Northside and Fifth Ward neighborhoods, both within the Loop-610 in Houston. Other concentrations are seen north of town on both sides of north State Highway 45, and in the East End and southeast neighborhoods between east I-10 and Highway 45 south, and within Loop-610. Areas with equal density of elders can be found scattered throughout the county south of Loop-610 and east of Highway 288, along Highway 59 north outside of Loop-610, and southwest of the loop Highway 59 south and Beltway 8.

Percent of People Over Age 65 Who Live Alone  (pdf)
An indicator often related to increased vulnerability of elders is that of living alone. Elders who are over age 65, and live alone, may not constitute a group at risk if they are economically stable and their health is good. The largest concentration of elders living alone, 30-48 percent of the population by zip code, appear to be in older neighborhoods, encircling downtown Houston, just west and southwest of downtown, on both sides of Loop-610 west, and extending to Beltway 8 on the west side. This level of concentration is also found inside Loop-610 in the northwest quadrant, outside the loop on the north side of town, and in the northeast of town. Smaller pockets of concentration of elders living alone are located outside the south of Loop-610, in the Pearland area, and in neighborhoods in Pasadena in the southeast portion of the map.

Percent of People Over Age 65 with No Available Vehicles  (pdf)
In Harris County, use of a vehicle is vital to many activities related to wellbeing and social integration for elders. Often, a car is also a necessity in order to access healthcare services, especially if these are required to be frequent trips beyond the immediate neighborhood. Elders who must rely on others or on public transportation are at greater risk of reducing their contacts with care providers who are help them engaged in prevention of disease or life enrichment opportunities. At highest concentrations, 20-46 percent of zip code populations, elders in this category are located mostly in neighborhoods that encircle downtown Houston within Loop-610, and extend out to the northeast and southwest along Highway 59.

Percent of People Over Age 65 with No Home Telephone  (pdf)
This category along with the lack of vehicle can be proxies for isolation of elders. While the proportion of people without telephone is small, concentrations of 2.5 to 15 percent can be found in larger numbers in more rural areas along the far northeastern and far northwestern edges of the county. Small pockets are also located throughout the county and are likely to be found in household where poverty is severe.

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Last Updated on 10/19/12
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