New Report Describes What to Expect As We Age

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Reaching mid-life comes with its perks. You start thinking about how far you’ve come and how you’ve grown comfortable with yourself. I always love reading what women our age would have told our younger selves. Often their message is, “Don’t stress; it will all work out.”


    Even as we look backward on where we’ve been, this time of year is also a good time to look forward to where we’re going. A new report, 90+ in the United States: 2006-2008, based on the U.S. Census, paints a sobering picture. This report, which was written by Wan He and Mark N. Muenchrath, was issued in November.

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    Some of the report's findings include:

    • Among the older population who are were 65 and older in 2006-2008, the subpopulation who was 90 years old and above has increased more rapidly than those who were ages 85-89 as well as other younger subpopulations in this category. 
    • A person who reached 90 years of age in 2006-2008 was expected to live another 4.6 years, as compared to another 3.2 years for people over 90 in 1929-1931. It was also projected that people who reach 100 will live another 2.3 years.
    • The states that had the highest population age 90 and over were California, Florida, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts. However, the ten states that had the largest percentage of the subgroup of people age 90 and over within the overall population that was 65 and over were North Dakota, Connecticut, Iowa, South Dakota, District of Columbia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Kansas and Rhode Island.
    • Older women have made the most rapid improvement in life expectancy and can continue to expect to live longer than men. Life expectancy for women who were 65 in 2006-2008 was projected at 19.7, while men at that age were expected to live 17 additional years. Furthermore, during the past 80 years, older women added approximately 7 years to their life expectancy, which resulted in a 54% extension. In comparison, older men’s life expectancy only increased by 5.3 years (45%). Women made up about three-fourths of the total population who was 90 and older in 2006-2008.
    • The population of people who are 90 and older in 2006-2008 was overwhelmingly white.
    • Over 84% of the women who were 90 years old and older were widowed. 
    • Asian and Hispanics who were 90 and older were least likely to live alone.  
    • Forty percent of women age 90 and above lived alone, while another 25% lived in institutional group quarters. The researchers defined group quarters as “a place where people live or stay in a group living arrangement, which is owned or managed by an entity or organization providing housing and/or services for the residents. These services may include custodial or medical care as well as other types of assistance, and the residency is commonly restricted to those receiving these services.”
    • The most common disabilities for those age 90 and above were difficulty doing errands alone and mobility-related limitations.
    • The poverty rate for people who were 90 years old and older in 2006-2008 was higher than that for those aged 65-89. The report notes, “In 2006-2008, 14.5 percent of the people aged 90 and over lived in poverty. Among those in poverty, 81.2 percent were women, disproportionately higher than their share of the 90-and-older population (74.1 percent).

    So what does this mean for middle-age women? For one, there’s a strong chance that you will be living a long life, so take the steps necessary to ensure that you have quality of life, as opposed to quantity of life. That means taking good care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally and preparing yourself financially. Secondly, I’d encourage you to start learning about available services for the elderly in your current community or wherever you think you’ll live in your later years. It’s never too early to begin learning about what’s available and developing the support structure that you may need in the not-as-distant future.

Published On: November 23, 2011