After accounting empirically for methodological differences, three national population-based surveys from the period between 1999 and 2002 provide similar estimates of the size and characteristics of the older residential care population: About 2.2 million persons age 65 or older (6.5 percent) live in supportive settings, about 1.45 million of them in nursing homes and nearly 800,000 in alternative residential care. Depending on survey definitions of "facility" versus community settings, however, the estimated proportion of the residential care population in community settings ranges from about half to three-quarters. Elders in community residential care appear to have less severe disability and are far more likely to report no ADL or IADL disabilities than those in facility alternatives to nursing homes. The age and gender distribution of persons in residential care alternatives and nursing homes is similar, but those in residential care alternatives more likely to be white and less likely to have extremely low incomes.
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