Topic updated: February 2013

Aging

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.

The report, 65+ in the United States: 2005, was prepared for NIA, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide a picture of the health and socioeconomic status of the aging population at a critical time in the maturing of the United States. It highlights striking shifts in aging on a population scale and also describes changes at the local and even family level, examining, for example, important changes in family structure as a result of divorce.

“The collection, analysis, and reporting of reliable data are critical to informing policy as the nation moves ahead to address the challenges and opportunities of an aging population,” says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “This report tells us that we have made a lot of progress in improving the health and well-being of older Americans, but there is much left to do.”

Among the trends:

“The social and economic implications of an aging population - and of the baby boom in particular - are likely to be profound for both individuals and society,” says Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. “The 65+ in the United States report helps us to understand these dramatic changes so we can examine how they may impact families and society.”

The 65+ report is a project of the NIA’s Behavioral and Social Research Program, which supports the collection and analyses of data in several national and international studies on health, retirement, and aging. The program’s director, Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., suggests that, with five years to go before the baby boom turns 65, “Many people have an image of aging that may be 20 years out of date. The very current portrait presented here shows how much has changed and where trends may be headed in the future.”

Read the rest of this article from the National Institutes of Health,

older men playing pool

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