A report commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health shows that the older population of the United States continues to grow. It compares the 30 years from 1980 to 2010 and shows the numbers of elderly people have increased at an astonishing rate.
The report published on November 17th states that in 1980 there were 720,000 people aged 90 and above in the United States. By 2010, that number reached 1.9 million. It is estimated that by 2050 the numbers may reach nine million. The report suggests we need to adjust our terminology and as a result we should describe the oldest-old as people 90 years and over rather than the present 85 years.
It is no surprise that in many wealthy countries we are all living longer. But our wish for increased longevity comes at a cost; emotionally, sociologically and biologically. Most of us want more of life but it does have huge implications for the economy, for health services and for living arrangements. Most of the oldest old will probably need to cope with increasing frailty, disabilities and dementia.
As we know 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, 5.2 million are aged 65 and over. Of those 1 in 8 has Alzheimer's. But nearly half of people aged 85 and older have the disease. Half! It is not the type of life we wish for, not the sort of lifestyle we envisage.
Alzheimer's is the only cause of death among the top 10 in America without a way to prevent, cure, or even slow its progression
In 2010, 14.9 million family and friends provided 17 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The emotional cost means that more than 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, one-third report symptoms of depression.
Economically the value of the unpaid care provided to those with Alzheimer's and other dementias is estimated as $202.6 billion in 2010. It is not a lifestyle caregivers look forward to as they age either.The Numbers of Americans Over 90 Years is Growing Fast, so it's not unreasonable to ask whether and how the United States will cope?
Published On: December 19, 2011