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Report outlines actions of older citizens

Ask Bob

Ask Bob

March 26, 2009

Q: A friend of mine heard a radio report recently about a comprehensive analysis of older Americans that sounds very interesting. Apparently, it comes from something referred to as "The Forum." Are you aware of anything like this?

A: Not really. However, I was able to retrieve something called "The Older Americans 2004: Key Indicators of Well-being." On the chance that it might be what you are looking for, the following might be helpful.

The report is the second comprehensive analysis of the lives of older Americans compiled by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. The goal of the forum is to improve the quality and usefulness of data on aging.

The following are some highlights of the report:

o Population: Older Americans have attained higher levels of education. In 1950, 17 percent of the older population had graduated from high school and only 3 percent had at least a bachelor's degree. By 2003, 72 percent were high school graduates and 17 percent had at least a bachelor's degree.

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o Economics: More women ages 55 to 69 are working than ever before. In 2003, about three-fifths of women ages 55 to 61, almost two-fifths of women ages 62 to 64, and more than one-fifth of women ages 65 to 69 were in the labor force.

o Health status: In 2002, close to one half of all older men and nearly one-third of older women reported trouble hearing without a hearing aid. Vision problems, even with glasses or contact lenses, affected 18 percent of the older population, specifically 16 percent of men and 19 percent of women.

o Health risks and behaviors: The percentage of older men who are smokers declined from 29 percent in 1965 to 10 percent in 2002. The corresponding percentage of women has remained relatively constant, declining slightly from 10 percent in 1965 to nine percent in 2002.

o Health care: Medicare pays for slightly more than half (54 percent) of the overall health care costs of its enrollees ages 65 and older. This population pays 21 percent of their health care costs out of pocket. Medicaid covers 10 percent of costs, and other payers, primarily private insurers, cover another 15 percent.

In 2003, approximately 2.3 million veterans ages 65 and older received health care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). An additional 1 million older veterans were enrolled to receive health care from VHA but did not use its services that year.

More information on this report is available online at www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/16612.php.

Hagerstown resident Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a member of the Society of Senior Advisers and provides senior professional services for reverse mortgages and personal insurance. He also is a member of the Senior Referral Center of Hagerstown. Questions are welcomed at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail c/o The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Robert A. Poor column.

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