Senior Living Blog

Census 2020: Have You Been Counted?

July 2, 2020

So many events have been affected by this year’s coronavirus outbreak. The 2020 election will be more complicated, the 2020 Olympic Games were postponed for a year, and countless planned events were cancelled.

The 2020 Census has also been impacted by the pandemic. Some of the dates have been extended, with the U.S. Census Bureau hoping to complete data collection by the end of October. Phone and in-person census takers are expected to begin canvassing in August. In-person census takers are trained on social distancing protocols and will be using masks and other PPE according to local standards. However, the Census Bureau reminds us, “People can still respond on their own online, over the phone or by mail — all without having to meet a census taker.”

New deadline: Oct. 31

The deadline has been moved from July 31 to Oct. 31. You can fill out your questionnaire at (People who live in senior living communities may have been counted there; ask staff if you have questions about that.)

With the need for social distancing, it’s fortunate that the 2020 Census, for the first time, is designed to be completed online as much as possible! But one downside is that seniors, who have historically been the age group most likely to return their census forms, may hesitate to use the online interface. They may not have computer access, or they may fear that their information could be compromised.

If you prefer to complete the questionnaire by phone or by mail, learn more at It’s quick and easy. Remember: The Census is only taken every 10 years, so the results will affect the lives of people for the upcoming decade. And that includes older adults.

How the census helps seniors

Responses will be used to allocate the use of billions of dollars of taxpayer money—including for senior-serving services. The Census Bureau reminds us, “Everyone uses roads, hospitals and emergency services but some state and federal programs target specifically older populations.” Census statistics help allocate funding for:

  • Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people, including those age 65 and older, and the largest federal program that uses census statistics to determine funding
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the second-largest program that uses census statistics to allocate funds
  • Medicare Part B, part of the Medicare health insurance program for all people over 65 years old, no matter their income
  • Funding for services such as senior centers, adult day centers, meals delivered at community centers or to the homes of seniors, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, job training for seniors, and elder abuse prevention and protection

“The census is really important to us in the aging community,” says John Haaga of the National Institutes of Health. “It’s our only way to figure out how things are different across the country, what areas are aging faster, where elderly disabled people live, or where older people are concentrated.”

A word of warning: There have been reports of con artists impersonating census takes, online, in person, and over the phone. Victimizing older adults is bad enough—but the Census Bureau also reports that fearing these fraudsters, some people are then too suspicious of legitimate census workers to respond to their questions. The bureau reminds us that they will never ask for your Social Security number, your bank account or credit card numbers, anything on behalf of a political party, or for money. Learn more on the Census Bureau’s “Avoiding Fraud and Scams” information page (

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise with information from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Categories: Healthy Aging