An increasing number of Americans who weren’t poor during their working years are being plunged into poverty during retirement, a legal advocate for the elderly said Friday.

Kevin Prindiville, executive director of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, blamed the trend on declining home ownership and rising health care costs.

Seniors pay an average of $4,000 out of pocket per year for deductibles, prescription drugs and doctor visits, Prindville said at the American Bar Association’s National Aging and Law Conference.

Seventy percent of people over 65 will need long-term care, while a skilled nursing facility often costs $6,000 per month, he said.

Declining home ownership is making the situation worse, he said.

“It used to be, many seniors owned their homes and by the time they retired they had their mortgage paid off so they didn’t have significant housing expenses,” Prindiville said. “But increasingly that is not the case. … Seniors are renting or paying off first or second mortgages.”

Fewer seniors have family members to give them free care and housing during their later years because of divorce, fewer children in the average American family and the vast number of people who have had to move to find work and no longer live close enough to their elderly relatives to aid them, Prindiville said.