Americans Aging, Gracefully

By 2030, an estimated 72 million baby boomers will make up 20 percent of the population.  Americans are aging and living longer than ever, according to a report entitled “Older Americans 2010:  Key Indicators of Well-Being” compiled by 15 federal agencies.

The full report, which details demographics, economics, health status, health risks and healthcare can be found at a dedicated website.  According to the report, Americans who live to 65 can expected to survive approximately 18.5 additional years, four more years than in 1960. Women who live to 85 can expect to live 6.8 more years and men 5.7 years.  As impressive as those life expectancies are, people living in most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Costa Rica – and even Cuba — can expect to live longer.

An estimated 39 million Americans were 65 or older in 2008 – approximately 13 percent of the population.  In 2030 – when the entire baby boomer generation will be 65 or older – there will be 72 million senior citizens or approximately 20 percent of the population.  By 2050, the over-85 population is expected to grow from 5.8 million to 19 million.  Healthcare costs for the average senior, adjusted for inflation, rose from $9,224 in 1992 to $15,081 in 2006.  Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for people 65 and older, though at half the rate recorded in 1981 – just 1,297 per 100,000.  Strokes, cancer, respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s are the next leading causes of death.  Healthcare ate up 28 percent of out-of-pocket spending among the poor and nearly poor in 2006; that compares to 12 percent in 1977.

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