We now have a human face on America's declining savings rate and - surprise, surprise - it doesn't resemble a Baby Boomer or someone from Generation X.

No, researchers say, the citizen behind the nation's profligate consumerism looks more like the Little Old Lady from Pasadena. Except she's not spending her bucks on a motorcoach trip to Atlantic City.Using a broad definition of consumption that includes spending on home heating, medicine, nursing-home care and other daily staples, economists say that today's average 80-year-old is spending $1.16 for every $1 spent by a typical 30-year-old. Compare that to the early 1960s, when an 80-year-old spent 65 cents for every buck spent by a 30-year-old.

Before anyone can say Greedy Geezers, it's worth noting some of the causes of such spending. People are living longer (and living costs money). Elderly people are living more often in independent situations (while more families are multigenerational, fewer households are). And more sophisticated (read: more costly) care options deliver a better quality of life, particularly in the golden years.

Even after paying for just the basics, the nation's elderly have little left to save. An economist at the Brookings Institution says that, in contrast, the savings pattern of people born after 1940 has held up surprisingly well.

Good for them. Because if Congress ever decides to trim spending on Social Security, any personal dollars socked away now will mean much more in the future.