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Americans living longer, enjoying greater health and prosperity, but important disparities remain
Date:3/27/2008

ries age 65 or older enrolled in the program increased from 18.2 million to 19.7 million, with two-thirds selecting stand-alone plans and one-third in Medicare Advantage plans.

Several new specific indicators have been added in Older Americans 2008:

  • Housing. Most older people live in adequate, affordable housing. However, a significant percentage has housing-related issues that can pose problems to an older persons physical or psychological well-being. In 2005, 41 percent of households with people over age 65 had significant housing-related problems, such as housing cost burden (expenditures on housing and utilities that exceed 30 percent of household income), physically inadequate housing and crowded housing. The prevalence of housing cost burden for households with people age 65 and over increased from 30 percent in 1985 to 38 percent in 2005, compared with 26 and 33 percent, respectively, for all U.S. households. Notably, a smaller percentage of older adults housing had major physical problems, such as faulty plumbing or poor upkeep5 percent in 2005 versus 8 percent in 1985.

  • Use of Time. The proportion of leisure time that older Americans spent socializing and communicatingsuch as visiting friends or attending social eventsdeclines by age, from 13 percent in those ages 55 to 64 to 10 percent for those 75 and over. The proportion of leisure time devoted to sports, exercise, recreation and travel also declines with age. On an average day, most Americans age 65 and older spent at least half of their leisure time watching television. Americans age 75 and older spent a higher proportion of their leisure time reading, relaxing and thinking than did those ages 55 to 64.

  • Health Literacy. Among older Americans, the average level of health literacythe extent to which people can obtain, process and understand basic health information and serviceswas lower than that of any other age group, and it
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Contact: Vicky Cahan
nianews3@mail.nih.gov
301-496-1752
NIH/National Institute on Aging
Source:Eurekalert

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