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Most Older Americans Living Longer and Better
Date:3/27/2008

But problems persist, such as disparities among races, report finds,,,,

THURSDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Older Americans are living longer than ever and enjoying better health and financial security, a new report finds.

Yet there continue to be lingering disparities between racial and ethnic groups.

In 2006, there were an estimated 37 million Americans 65 and older -- 2 percent of the population. By 2030, it's estimated at 71.5 million people will be 65 and older -- almost 20 percent of the population, according to the report, Older Americans 2008: Key Indicators of Well-Being.

"This report comes at a critical time," Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, said Thursday in a prepared statement. "As the baby boomers age and America's older population grows larger and more diverse, community leaders, policymakers and researchers have an even greater need for reliable data to understand where older Americans stand today and what they may face tomorrow."

The report examined five broad areas of well-being: economics, health status, health risks and behaviors and health care.

Even though life expectancy for Americans continues to increase for those 65 years of age, it is lower than in countries such as Canada, France Japan and Sweden. For example, Japanese women 65 years of age live 3.2 years longer than women in the United States. Among men, the difference is 1.2 years, according to the report.

In terms of overall health, key indicators such as smoking rates, flu and pneumonia vaccinations and screening for breast cancer have improved but have leveled off in recent years.

As for chronic conditions, women reported higher levels of arthritis compared with men. Men reported higher levels of heart disease and cancer. Among African-Americans, there were higher levels of high blood pressure and diabetes compared with whites. Hispanics report
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