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

Mar 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: Massage therapy improves circulation, eases muscle soreness

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sociology professors asks 'Is teenage suicide contagious?'

Apr 11, 2014

A paper on teenage suicide written by two assistant professors of sociology at the University of Memphis will be published in the field's flagship journal, the American Sociological Review, in April. "Are Suicidal Behavi ...

Pew studies American view of Internet impact

Feb 27, 2014

The Pew Research Center released this week its Pew Research Internet Project findings on how Americans view the Internet's impact on their lives and relationships. The findings are Part 2 of the think tanks's ...

An end to animal testing for drug discovery?

Mar 18, 2014

As some countries and companies roll out new rules to limit animal testing in pharmaceutical products designed for people, scientists are stepping in with a new way to test therapeutic drug candidates and determine drug safety ...

Recommended for you

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care (Update)

9 hours ago

President Barack Obama said Thursday 8 million Americans have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead ...

User comments : 1

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.

More news stories

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...