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Wise Young
03-12-2006, 08:18 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/10/national/10aging.html


Census Report Foresees No Crisis Over Aging Generation's Health
By RICK LYMAN
Published: March 10, 2006

The next few decades will see an explosion in the percentage of Americans over the age of 65, but the economic and social impact of this baby boomer sunset may be gentler than had been feared because of a significant drop in the percentage of older people with disabilities, a new federal study has concluded.

Released yesterday, the United States Census Bureau's 243-page report on the aging population, among the largest and most comprehensive on the subject that the bureau has ever compiled, showed that today's older Americans are markedly different from previous generations. They are more prosperous, better educated and healthier, and those differences will only accelerate as the first boomers hit retirement age in 2011.

"Older Americans, when compared to older Americans even 20 years ago, are showing substantially less disability, and that benefit applies to men and to women," said Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, on whose behalf the study was conducted. "All of this speaks to an improved quality of life."

What this suggests, Dr. Hodes said, is that while many of these older Americans will eventually become disabled, it will happen later with more of the years beyond 65 free of disability — an increase in what scientists call health expectancy.

And while, as baby boomers age, the growing ranks of the infirm will become a substantial drain on government coffers and devour health care resources, the total impact may not be as devastating as once feared, Dr. Hodes said.

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