A recent AARP Public Policy Institute report found that average credit card balances for households over age 75 jumped 31 percent during the recession. A separate AARP report found that boomers - households over age 50 - now have higher overall credit card debt than younger people - a reversal of previous trends.
The average combined balance on all cards in 2012 was $8,278.
The study found the key causes of debt included medical expenses, car and home repairs and basic living expenses. "The popular image is people going wild at the mall, but we found that it's more about making ends meet," said Amy Traub, senior policy analyst at think tank Demos, who wrote the AARP report.
Read the report: In the Red: Older Americans and Credit Card Debt