Exploring Senior Demographics of West Virginia

Last Updated on April 20, 2024 by Rachel


Nestled in the Appalachian region, West Virginia stands as a testament to rugged beauty and a rich cultural heritage. As we delve into the American Community Survey 2022 Census data on seniors aged 65 and over in West Virginia, we gain a nuanced understanding of the demographic makeup and diverse experiences of the state’s senior population.

Population (Sex and Age, Race)

West Virginia is home to a total population of 1,775,156, with seniors aged 65 and over constituting a significant portion at 376,162. This translates to a notable 21.19% of the state’s population. The senior demographic is characterized by a balanced gender distribution, with 45.6% male and 54.4% female. The median age among seniors is 73.1 years, reflecting a cohort with a wealth of life experiences.

The racial composition of West Virginia’s senior population is predominantly white, comprising 94.1%. The minority representation includes 2.6% Black or African American, 0.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.7% Asian, and 0.1% identifying with some other race. Two or more races account for 2.5% of seniors, and 0.8% identify as Hispanic or Latino origin. The majority, 93.9%, identify as White alone, not Hispanic or Latino.


Within households, the senior population in West Virginia is closely tied to family and community. Of the 365,946 seniors living in households, 92.4% are either householders or spouses. Additional relationships include parents (2.8%), other relatives (2.7%), and nonrelatives (2.0%), with unmarried partners representing 1.0%.

Households by Type

West Virginia hosts 240,156 households, with 53.4% being family households. Among family households, 42.2% are married-couple families, while 8.9% are female householders with no spouse present. Nonfamily households constitute 46.6%, with 43.8% being households where the householder lives alone.

Marital Status

The marital status of seniors in West Virginia reflects a range of life experiences:

  • Now married, except separated: 55.4%
  • Widowed: 24.9%
  • Divorced: 13.9%
  • Separated: 0.9%
  • Never married: 4.9%

Educational Attainment

Educational attainment among seniors in West Virginia is diverse, contributing to a rich tapestry of experiences and perspectives:

  • Less than high school graduate: 14.0%
  • High school graduate, GED, or alternative: 41.8%
  • Some college or associate’s degree: 23.5%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 20.7%

Responsibility for Grandchildren Under 18 Years

A significant aspect of senior life is their role in caring for grandchildren. In West Virginia, 3.4% of seniors live with their grandchildren, and 1.3% are responsible for their grandchildren.

Veteran Status

West Virginia takes pride in its civilian veteran population, accounting for 15.7% of seniors.

Disability Status

Among the civilian noninstitutionalized population aged 65 and over, 41.0% report having a disability, while 59.0% indicate no disability.

Language Status

Language spoken at home is predominantly English, with 98.4% speaking only English. However, 1.6% of seniors in West Virginia converse in a language other than English, with 0.7% indicating that they speak English less than “very well.”

In this exploration of West Virginia’s senior demographic, we gain a comprehensive understanding of the population’s composition, relationships, living arrangements, and various other aspects that contribute to the rich tapestry of the state. This overview lays the groundwork for a deeper exploration, providing valuable insights into the lives of seniors in the Mountain State.

Employment Status

Turning our focus to the employment status of seniors in West Virginia, 13.7% of the senior population is part of the labor force, with 13.3% employed and 0.4% unemployed. This paints a picture of seniors actively engaged in various professional pursuits.

Income Status

Understanding the financial landscape of seniors in West Virginia provides valuable insights into their economic stability, sources of income, and capacity to meet their needs.

Household Earnings:
Within the 240,156 households inhabited by seniors, 28.7% report earnings. The mean earnings among these households amount to $53,595, reflecting the diverse economic backgrounds of seniors in the state.

Social Security Income:
An overwhelming majority, 91.2% of senior households, receive Social Security income. The mean Social Security income stands at $23,379, underscoring the crucial role of this financial support in sustaining seniors in West Virginia.

Supplemental Security Income:
Additionally, 7.2% of senior households receive Supplemental Security Income, with an average amount of $9,557. This supplemental support plays a vital role in meeting specific financial needs for a segment of the senior population.

Cash Public Assistance Income:
A smaller percentage, 2.2%, receives cash public assistance income, with an average amount of $4,015. This assistance contributes to the overall financial well-being of seniors facing specific economic challenges.

Retirement Income:
A substantial 59.8% of senior households receive retirement income, with an average amount of $25,966. This diverse income stream is indicative of the various retirement plans and financial preparations seniors have made.

Food Stamp/SNAP Benefits:
Finally, 12.7% of senior households receive Food Stamp/SNAP benefits, highlighting the importance of assistance programs in ensuring access to essential nutritional resources.

In summary, the income status of seniors in West Virginia reflects a multifaceted economic landscape, encompassing diverse sources of financial support. From Social Security and retirement income to supplemental assistance, seniors in the state navigate a varied economic terrain, showcasing resilience and adaptability in managing their financial well-being.

Poverty Status

Analyzing poverty status, 12.1% of seniors in West Virginia fall below 100% of the poverty level, while 11.1% fall between 100 and 149% of the poverty level. The majority, 76.9%, are at or above 150% of the poverty level.

Housing Status

Examining the housing landscape for seniors in West Virginia provides crucial insights into their living arrangements, financial resilience, and overall well-being.

Occupied Housing Units:
West Virginia is home to 240,156 occupied housing units, serving as the backdrop for the lives of seniors in the state.

Housing Tenure:
A significant majority of seniors, 85.9%, reside in owner-occupied housing units, showcasing a strong sense of homeownership within this demographic. The remaining 14.1% of seniors live in renter-occupied housing units.

Average Household Size:
Owner-occupied units have an average household size of 1.85, indicating a focus on comfortable living for smaller households. Renter-occupied units, with an average size of 1.40, similarly reflect a preference for more compact living spaces.

Selected Characteristics:
Within the owner-occupied category, a substantial 83.7% of units have selected monthly costs below 30% of household income, highlighting financial prudence and stability. For renter-occupied units, 55.4% have gross rent below 30% of household income, reinforcing a balance between housing expenses and financial resources.

In summary, the housing status of seniors in West Virginia not only underscores their diverse living arrangements but also points to a prudent approach in managing housing-related costs. This resilience is evident in the choices seniors make regarding homeownership, rental arrangements, and financial decisions, collectively contributing to a robust and adaptable senior community in the state.


As we amalgamate the multifaceted data on West Virginia’s senior population, a comprehensive portrait emerges. These seniors, comprising over 20% of the state’s population, navigate life with diverse backgrounds, relationships, and socioeconomic statuses. From employment and income to housing and beyond, each data point reflects the resilience and varied experiences of West Virginia’s elderly.

In conclusion, the detailed analysis of senior statistics in West Virginia reveals a dynamic and resilient community. With a significant demographic presence, diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, and varied family structures, seniors contribute to the cultural richness of the state. Educational achievements, veteran status, and disability rates provide insight into the diverse experiences of this population. Language homogeneity, coupled with employment and income diversity, highlights the adaptive nature of seniors in managing their well-being. The majority living above the poverty line and homeownership prevalence showcase economic resilience. This comprehensive understanding forms the basis for future initiatives to enhance the quality of life for seniors in West Virginia.