Politicians and the media keep throwing out numbers regarding the size of the older adult population in America as if it was dooms day. While researching for this blog I saw the increase in elderly termed as the “Longevity Revolution.” But seriously, how does this really effect us?
In 1950, 12.7 million people lived to 65 or older. In 2004, that number increased to 36.3 million. The life expectancy is currently 78 years old with most people living longer due to advances in science, medicine and technology. The elderly population now outnumbers children under age 5. The elderly have gone from something businesses termed as “not a viable demographic” to having considerable clout- there is power in numbers. On top of having the numbers, seniors control about 3/4 of the country’s wealth. Seniors previously labeled as frail or feeble, are stepping out of the stereotype, enriching their lives through traveling, continuing their education, and exploring new hobbies.
The extended human life span is both an achievement and a challenge. Seniors can no longer be ignored and now the country is scrambling to address the needs and concerns of the aging population including caregiving and health costs. With an increase in age comes an increase in chronic diseases. There are strains in social insurance, pensions and other government support systems. Retirement patterns are changing causing a clash between the official and actual retirement age.
The statistic equation of the aging population is something that effects everyone. Long life means changes in health and well-bieng, economic activities and social cohesion.