The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 138

This issue:

Report Card for Seniors


Keep a healthy perspective on the future. Despite the media's drumbeat of problems, Americans are becoming healthier.


On March 9th the National Institute on Aging released it study,65+ in the United States: 2005.It found that for Americans over 65:

  • Disability rates dropped from 26.2% in 1982 to 19.7% in 1999 despite the group including a higher proportion of seniors over 80. (Note that a chronic health condition, e.g., arthritis is not considered a disability unless it causes functional limitations in activities of daily living.)
  • Poverty rates dropped from 35% in 1959 to 10% in 2003 (much of the improvement is due to Social Security).
  • Between 1950 and 2003 high school graduate rates rose from 17% to 67% and college graduate rates rose from 3.4% in 1950 to 17.4%. (Education enhances adaptability and is correlated with better health.)
  • Even at ages 85 and older, only 18.1% lived in nursing homes.
  • Death rates from heart disease declined dramatically.
  • Cigarette smoking rates declined.

With improving health and a greater emphasis on quality of life, the World Health Organization has developed a new statistic–Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE). In the US the HALE for men is 67.2 years and for women 71.3 years.

Yes, obesity rates are increasing. On the whole, however, the data suggest a healthier, more resourceful senior population–and the trends are likely to continue. If you would like to see or download the free 254 page study, it is at


Many people have an image of aging that may be 20 years out of date. The very current portrait presented here shows how much has changed and where trends may be headed in the future.

~Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., Director of the 65+ in the United States: 2005


The census worker asked an older timer, "How many people live in this town?" "About 4,000. Been that way for 25 years," he replied. "Haven't any people move in–any babies been born here?" asked the census worker. The old timer replied, "Sure we've had babies; but every time one's born someone leaves town."

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