Prevalence estimates and evidence informing treatment targets for thyroid dysfunction largely come from studies of middle-aged adults. We conducted a cross-sectional analysis to determine the prevalence of thyroid dysfunction and risk factors for abnormal thyroid tests in participants aged ≥65 in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study (N = 5,392). We measured serum concentrations of triiodothyronine (T3), free thyroxine (FT4), thyroid peroxidase antibody (Anti-TPO), and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In this population (58% women, 22% black), 17% reported medication use for thyroid dysfunction. Among those not on treatment, the prevalence of overt and subclinical hypothyroidism was 0.82% and 6.06%, respectively. Overt and subclinical hyperthyroidism affected 0.26% and 0.78%, respectively. Multivariable adjusted TSH, FT4 and T3 levels were 25%, 1.3% and 3.9% lower in blacks compared to whites, respectively. Men were less likely to be anti-TPO positive compared to women (p < 0.001). Former and never smoking were associated with lower T3 and FT4 levels compared to current smoking. The prevalence of thyroid dysfunction in older adults is nearly 25%. Multiple illnesses can interact to contribute to declines in health. Additional attention to thyroid dysfunction and screening in this age group is recommended.