We Will Live Longer in 2050, Study Predicts

What's So Bad About Living Longer?

"For the short term that is a real concern. Very realistic estimates for 2030, is that one in five Americans will be over 65," said Phillips. "That means more years for people who have dementia, who have problems living independently."

Even if the Olshansky's prediction is wrong, those who treat the elderly foresee a heavy strain on society in the next 40 years.

"As people age, the older they get the more likely they are to be burdened with functional impairments," said Phillips. "Many people you talk to don't want to live to 120 if they are going to be in a wheelchair since they were 80."

Geriatric experts expect the strain of an aging society will weigh heavily on the young as well.

Can We Care for the Elderly?

Phillips also pointed out that America relies on unskilled, cheap immigrant labor to care for the elderly, but there is no guarantee that this labor source will continue in the future.

"We also are going to have changes in the American workforce where we won't have enough skilled people to fill in the missing slots," said Brangman. "We will have a big skill and brain drain."

Olshansky and colleagues argue that some of these downfalls of an aging society can be prevented, if medicine can get people living healthier as they age and if society can work around the logistics of aging.

"We're talking about refashioning education, developing new working opportunities for elder population, the idea of retirement, transportation will have to change," said Olshansky.

"The time to plan for this is now," he said.

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