Older Americans Living Longer, Study Says

ByABC News
August 9, 2000, 6:34 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, Aug. 10 -- The number of Americans age 65 or olderincreased tenfold in the last century and the elderly are livinglonger, in more comfort and in better health than ever before,researchers report.

But up to one in four elderly Americans, by some measures, isnot sharing equally in this better life, according to a reportbeing released today that summarizes data from nine federalagencies.

People are living longer and living more of their life inbetter health than before, said Richard Suzman, an expert at theNational Institute on Aging, the lead agency in assembling thereport.

The challenge, he said, is to keep up that trend of improvementand to spread the benefits more equally among all races and ethnicgroups.

Suzman said the report will help policy-makers brace for theold-age arrival of the baby boomers, a population wave that willcreate an enormous stretch of societys health and elder careservices.

Taking Data From Various Agencies

The study, Older Americans 2000: Key Indicators ofWell-Being, compiles for the first time statistics from variousagencies to provide a unified picture of the overall health andwell-being of older Americans, said Katherine K. Wallman, chiefstatistician of the Office of Management and Budget.

I see a very positive picture, but clearly problems doremain, said Dr. Edward J. Sondik, the director of the NationalCenter for Health Statistics.

Included in the 128-page report are statistics of 31 keyindicators selected to portray the lives and lifestyles of olderAmericans. Suzman said that such information will be updatedperiodically and used to help shape federal services for theelderly in the future.

Among the findings:

There are approximately 35 million people in the United Statesage 65 or older, accounting for about 13 percent of the totalpopulation. In 1900, the number of older Americans was about 3.1million.

With the aging of baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964,Americas older population will double by 2030, reaching some 70million.