SENIOR HEALTH: New Report Highlights Racial Differences
Americans are enjoying their golden years longer, healthier and wealthier than ever before, but rising rates of chronic disease, as well as health and economic disparities between racial ethnicities, are large, according to a Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics report titled, "Older Americans 2000: Key Indicators of Well-Being." At a time when baby boomers are beginning their slide into retirement, the report revealed that by 2030, 70 million people will be 65 or older, increasing the number of seniors to 20% of the American population (Newman, Washington Post, 8/10). According to the Scripps Howard News Service/Richmond Times Dispatch, a consortium of 10 federal agencies culled data for the 128-page report released today. Key findings include:
- A tenfold increase in the 65-and-older population since 1900 -- including increasing proportions of minorities;
- A significant decline in seniors living in poverty -- from 35% in 1959 to 11% in 1998 -- although poverty rates remain high for women and minorities (26.4% of blacks, 16% of Asians and 21% of Hispanics);
- A 25-year rise in life expectancy from 1900, increasing from 48 to 74 years for men and from 51 to 79 years for women;
- An increase in reports of chronic disease among those over 70 years, including memory impairment and depression;
- An increase in the need for home care services as fewer seniors are living in nursing homes.