Americans living longer, enjoying greater health and prosperity, but important disparities remain

March 27, 2008

Average life expectancy continues to increase, and today’s older Americans enjoy better health and financial security than any previous generation. However, rates of gain are inconsistent between the genders and across age brackets, income levels and racial and ethnic groups. Some critical disparities also exist between older Americans and older people in other industrialized countries.

These and other trends are reported in Older Americans 2008: Key Indicators of Well-Being, a unique, comprehensive look at aging in the United States from the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.

Older Americans 2008, the fourth chartbook prepared by the Forum since 2000, provides an updated, accessible compendium of indicators, drawn from the most reliable official statistics about the well-being of Americans primarily age 65 and over. The indicators are categorized into five broad areas—population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors and health care. The 160-page report contains data on 38 key indicators—and a one-time special feature on health literacy.

The Forum—a consortium representing 15 agencies with responsibilities for Federal data collection or aging programs—collects, interprets and updates these data and makes them available to government agencies, policymakers, the media and the public.

“This report comes at a critical time,” according to Edward Sondik, Ph.D., director, National Center for Health Statistics. “As the baby boomers age and America’s older population grows larger and more diverse, community leaders, policymakers and researchers have an even greater need for reliable data to understand where older Americans stand today and what they may face tomorrow.”

“The ‘greatest generation’ made enormous gains in health and financial security, although the gains were not shared equally,” says Richard Suzman, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral and Social Research Program at the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. “We’ll be tracking their children, those just reaching their 60s, to see whether those gains can be sustained or even improved.” Suzman cautions that there could be problems, however. For example, he notes that increased rates of obesity among today’s middle-aged could threaten the health of these adults as they age.

“The sheer size of the baby boom cohorts is certain to affect our health, long-term care and pension systems," says Benjamin E. Sasse, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, Department of Health and Human Services. “As we look ahead, it is imperative that we collect and analyze quality data to help policymakers plan for the future of these programs so important to aging Americans.”

Source: National Institute on Aging

Explore further: Countering pet obesity by rethinking feeding habits

Related Stories

Countering pet obesity by rethinking feeding habits

July 30, 2015

190 million Americans share the luxuries of human life with their pets. Giving dogs and cats a place in human homes, beds and—sometimes even, their wills—comes with the family member package.

Are we born racist? Bias expert answers timely questions

July 28, 2015

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, PhD, professor of psychology and Richard & Rhoda Goldman distinguished professor of social sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, recently co-edited a book called Are We Born Racist?: ...

Most people experience relative poverty at some point

July 23, 2015

How does one define "poverty?" The federal government draws a line, and if you're below it, you're poor. A Cornell sociologist seeking a more nuanced view of the American experience says poverty can be better understood in ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HeRoze
not rated yet Mar 27, 2008
The sweeping generality of the introduction of this 'article' make me want to read the report. I wonder if it considers employment status during a person's prime years, as well as income, education, etc. The intro points to ethnic and gender issues, but I wonder if there are other causal underlying factors.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.