California Elder Index

The California Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index (Elder Index) is part of a national effort to provide an evidence-based indicator of the actual basic costs faced by older adults (ages 65 and over) at the county level. The California Elder Index is the first state to extend the calculations beyond single and elder couples to include the basic costs for older adults in different family arrangements such as grandparents raising grandchildren, older adults housing or living with adult children, and older adults housing or living with adult children and grandchildren. This is important since California’s older adults are more likely to live in multigenerational households than in any other state except Hawaii.

The basic cost of living for older adults includes expenses for housing, healthcare, food, transportation and a modest amount for miscellaneous expenses such as personal care, telephone and household maintenance. The same expenses are included for adult children and grandchildren along with taxes that adult children pay, tax credits they can obtain, and childcare expenses when a minor child is present in the home. Data for these expenses come from publicly available data sources, making it possible for others to replicate the data we provide and extend it to other geographies if desired.

Legislators, policymakers, local area departments, state agencies, community organizations, advocacy groups, foundations, researchers, and many others use the Elder Index to document the actual financial needs of older adults which is often underestimated by the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPL) and to justify programs to fill the economic security gap among older adults. California Area Agencies on Aging are required by state law to include the Elder Index in their annual needs assessments.

To access the California Elder Index website and data: Click Here   

Steven P Wallace

Department of Community Health Sciences