Americans Getting Richer, Living Longer

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    America’s oldest citizens are generally getting healthier, living longer, and doing better financially, but there’s lots of room for improvement says the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics in its report ‘Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-being.’ The report shows that gains in longevity continue and today’s 65-year-olds can expect to live about 20 more years. That’s a jump from 1980 when they could expect 14 more years. But many developed nations have life expectancies higher than the U.S. – topped by Japan, where today’s 65-year-olds can expect (on average) to celebrate their 89th birthdays. In 1980, Japan and the U.S. were about equal on this index. Today’s elderly Americans are doing better economically than their predecessors. The proportion classed as poor (living on less than $10,458 a year) has fallen from 15 per cent to nine per cent over the past couple of decades and those considered to have higher incomes (above $41,832), jumped from 18 to 31 per cent in that period. Old age is still a time of increasing physical limitations. Nearly half of men over 65 have trouble hearing and almost a third of women this age do too. A quarter of elderly people have no natural teeth. But when it comes to disability, two decades ago almost half of Americans over 65 had difficulty with personal care and vital chores. That has dropped to 41 per cent. Older Americans are more likely to carry around extra weight these days. Nearly half of 65- to 74-year-old women are obese today and men aren’t far behind. In 1990, about a quarter of elders tipped the scales that much. The report also shows that death is less likely to happen in a hospital today (32 per cent) than in 1999 (49 per cent), and more likely to be at home with hospice care.