Dramatic Changes in U.S. Aging Highlighted in New Census, NIH Report

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The face of aging in the United States is changing dramatically — and rapidly, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Today’s older Americans are very different from their predecessors, living longer, having lower rates of disability, achieving higher levels of education and less often living in poverty. And the baby boomers, the first of whom celebrated their 60th birthdays in 2006, promise to redefine further what it means to grow older in America.

Among the trends:

  • The United States population aged 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years.
  • The health of older Americans is improving. Still, many are disabled and suffer from chronic conditions.
  • The financial circumstances of older people have improved dramatically, although there are wide variations in income and wealth.
  • Geographically, Florida (17.6 percent), Pennsylvania (15.6 percent) and West Virginia (15.3 percent) are the “oldest” states, with the highest percentages of people aged 65 and older.
  • Higher levels of education, which are linked to better health, higher income, more wealth and a higher standard of living in retirement, will continue to increase among people 65 and older.
  • Changes in the American family have significant implications for future aging. Divorce, for example, is on the rise, and some researchers suggest that fewer children and more stepchildren may change the availability of family support in the future for people at older ages.

The public can view and also download the report at http://www.census.gov.

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