Monday, November 28, 2011

Raging against Aging

A whole lot more playing time is ahead of Sludge!

Reaching Age 90 Is More Likely Than Ever, Census Finds [11.17.11]

The rolls of America's oldest old are surging: Nearly 2 million now are 90 or over, nearly triple their numbers of just three decades ago.

It's not all good news. They're more likely than the merely elderly to live in poverty and to have disabilities, creating a new challenge to already strained retiree income and health care programs.

First-ever census data on the 90-plus population highlight America's ever-increasing life spans, which are redefining what it means to be old. Joined by graying baby boomers, the oldest old are projected to increase from 1.9 million to 8.7 million by midcentury – making up 2 percent of the total U.S. population and one in 10 older Americans. That's a big change from over a century ago, when fewer than 100,000 people reached 90.

Demographers attribute the increases mostly to better nutrition and advances in medical care. Still, the longer life spans present additional risks for disabilities and chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. An Associated poll in June found that more than one in four adults expect to live to at least 90, including nearly half of those currently 65 or older.

A majority of adults also said they expected people in their generation to live longer than those in their parents' generation, with about 46 percent saying they expected a better quality of life in later years as well.

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