November 20, 2011
American Nonagenarians To Quadruple By 2050
The number of Americans who are 90 years of age or older has nearly tripled over the past 30 years, the US Census Bureau announced on Friday.
According to AFP reports, the number of nonagenarians increased to 1.9 million as of 2010. They now represent 4.7% of the 65-and-old population in the US, an increase from just 2.8% in 1980.
Furthermore, by 2050, that number will more than quadruple (to 8.7 million), meaning they will account for roughly 10% of all older Americans, the Associated Press (AP) added.
As astonishing as those numbers are, some experts believe they may be underestimating the growth of the 90-plus portion of the U.S. population.
"I think it's going to grow even faster than predicted in the report," Richard Suzman, the director of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, the organization that commissioned the study, told Reuters reporter Lauren Keiper on Thursday.
"A key issue for this population will be whether disability rates can be reduced," he added in comments made to the AP. "We´ve seen to some extent that disabilities can be reduced with lifestyle improvements, diet and exercise. But it becomes more important to find ways to delay, prevent or treat conditions such as Alzheimer´s disease."
The study also reports that a vast majority (88.1%) of American nonagenarians are white. African-Americans made up 7.6% of the group, Hispanics approximately 4%, and Asians just 2.2%, according to the AFP. It also reports that women over 90 outnumber their male counterparts nearly three to one.
"More folks over the age of 90 means increased stress on pension and retirement funds, health care costs and caretaker relationships with younger generations," Keiper said, adding that the report also discovered that "A person who makes it to 90 years old today is expected to live almost another five years“¦ and, a person who lives to celebrate a 100th birthday is likely to live another 2.3 years."
Some of the reasons for the increase in the number of people reaching this advanced age are increases in education level and improvements in the areas of nutrition and public health, including a decline in smoking, fewer strokes, and better methods for controlling diabetes, Suzman told Reuters.
The report also notes that people between the ages of 90 and 94 are 13% more likely to have disabilities than 85 to 89 year olds; that the annual median personal income for people 90 and older during 2006-2008 was $14,760 (half of which originated from Social Security payments); that 14.5% of people 90 and older lived in poverty from 2006 through 2008; that 80% of all women over the age of 90 were widowed while 40% of men in the same age group were married; and that 99.5% of all nonagenarians were covered by some form of health insurance.
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