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Patty Craig: A Slice of Time

I’m another year older and thankful for that additional year. In celebration of my increased age, I read about seniors in the United States. One of my friends will often say, “Don’t talk to me about the golden years. They’re rusty!” But aging is just another step and another description.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the senior population is not a small group. Recently, the U.S. population by age group was:

•Age under 65273,900,000about 84.7%

•Age 65 and older49,220,000about 15.2%

•Age 65 to 7428,680,000about 8.8%

•Age 75 to 8414,260,000about 4.4%

•Age 85 and older6,277,000about 1.9%

•Total population323,100,000

The source of this information rounded numbers, slightly altering the data (https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/acs/...). However, those age 65 and older make up over 15% of our population – not a bad percentage. 

Additionally, the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) provided a fact sheet online about aging in the United States (https://www.prb.org/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet/). The fact sheet data was taken from a 2015 PRB report (Vol. 70, No. 2) which examined “trends and disparities among adults ages 65 and older.” The fact sheet provided some interesting data, including the following:

•The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double…by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent.

•The older population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. Between 2014 and 2060 the share of the older population that is non-Hispanic white is projected to drop by 24 percentage points, from 78.3 percent to 54.6 percent.

•Older adults are working longer. In 2014, 23 percent of men and about 15 percent of women ages 65 and older were in the labor force, and these levels are projected to rise further by 2022, to 27 percent for men and 20 percent for women.

•Education levels are increasing. Among people ages 65 and older in 1965, only 5 percent had completed a bachelor’s degree or more. By 2014, this share had risen to 25 percent.

•Average U.S. life expectancy increased from 68 years in 1950 to 79 years in 2013.

•The gender gap in life expectancy is narrowing. In 1990, there was a seven-year gap in life expectancy between men and women. By 2013, this gap had narrowed to less than five years (76.4 years versus 81.2 years).

This data shows that people are living longer and that the senior population continues to reflect the demographics of our country.

Even though it is viewed negatively, aging is not all bad. Many seniors today are living active, healthy, and longer lives (https://www.homeseniors.org/senior-moments-from-home/fun-facts-about-sen... http://touchlogo.com/blog/2013/02/12/fun-facts-about-the-senior-citizens/; http://www.mastersinhealthcare.com/blog/2011/50-fascinating-aging-facts-... http://eldercareissues.blogspot.com/2014/01/10-interesting-facts-about-s...):

•Keeping physically active can slow the ageing process. A study published in 1995 that tracked 9,777 men between 20 and 82 years found that physically unfit men who became fit had death rates 44 percent lower than those who remained unfit. 

•American seniors are the fastest growing group of consumers buying new computers and log significant time online, enjoying sites like Facebook or surfing the internet.

•Seniors make more life transitions than any other age range. Adults in their 50s and 60s experience more significant transitions in life than any other phase of life. This can be an exciting time of experiencing new hobbies, making lifelong friends and having fun with exercising, activities and hobbies.

•Senior citizens accounted for the highest percentage when it comes to the presidential voting campaign. Around 41% of votes are expected from the senior citizens by the year 2040.

•Despite popular belief, drivers over 65 have fewer accidents per person than those under 65. About 80% of seniors own a car and drive frequently. Though only 1% of senior deaths is due to a motor vehicle accident, they are more likely to have crashes at intersections than other age groups. 

Thus, the senior years – like any period in life – provide challenges and rewards.

Regarding aging, Billy Graham counseled, “Old age may have its limitations and challenges, but in spite of them, our latter years can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of our lives,” and Mark Twain instructed, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” (https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/age). And I don’t mind getting older – I’m thankful for every day.

 
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