(HealthDay News) – The estimates of selected indicators for well-being for older Americans for 2012 have been released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
Researchers from the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, representing 15 agencies, used data from different national sources to construct 37 indicators for well-being for the older population.
The researchers report that the demographics of aging continue to change, with the older population growing rapidly. These older Americans are more racially diverse and better educated than previously. There has been a decrease in the proportion of older Americans living in poverty or just above the poverty line, although there are still major economic inequalities. The life expectancy for older Americans is increasing, but at age 65, remaining life expectancy is lower than other developed nations, with a large proportion reporting chronic health conditions such as hypertension and arthritis. However, most Americans aged >65 years report good, very good, or excellent health. The health and well-being of older Americans is affected by preventive behaviors such as screening and vaccinations, and also by diet, physical activity, obesity, smoking, and air quality. Average health costs did not increase from 2006–2008, but poor or near-poor older Americans continued to spend a high proportion of their household income on health care services. In the last decade there was a considerable increase in the use of hospice care and a smaller increase in intensive care and coronary care services at the end of life.
“The Forum hopes that this report will stimulate discussions by policymakers and the public, encourage exchanges between the data and policy communities, and foster improvements in Federal data collection on older Americans,” the authors write.