One of the major accomplishments of the 20th century is that 30 years were added to life expectancy in America. Two-thirds of all the people in history who have lived to age 65 are alive today. In the United States, we have more seniors than Canada has citizens.
The fastest-growing segment of our population are people 85 years of age and older with their numbers growing from 4.2 million in the year 2000 to 19.3 million projected by 2050.
So, how do people see themselves aging? A survey done by Roper Research shows that people over 50 consider old age to arrive at their 90th birthday. While people under 50 consider old age to arrive at their 70th birthday. The older we are, the more we push out the age when we think people are old. You might say we’re in denial about aging.
Profile of our elderly
About 19 percent of Americans aged 65 and older experience some degree of chronic physical or mental impairment. Among those 85 or older, 55 percent are impaired and require long term assistance. Family members and friends are the sole caregiver for 70 percent of our elderly. A study by the US Department of Health and Human Services indicates the elderly will face at least a 40 percent lifetime risk of entering a nursing home. About 10 percent of those who are placed in nursing homes will stay there 5 years or longer. Length of nursing home stays have been steadily dropping over the last decade. The homecare industry has played a key role in reducing lengths of stay in nursing homes. Eighty-six percent of seniors prefer to remain in their own homes as they age and this is principally why the homecare industry continues to grow.