Federal Report: Key Indicators of Well-Being for Older Americans

There is a misconception that New York elder law estate planning is all about money. While finances are obviously central to this field, at the end of the day the main concerns are long-term well being. That is particularly true in the context of elder law. Ensuring adequate resources for long-term care is important but only insofar as those resources can be used to ensure one’s golden years are filled with happiness, contentment, and an ability to thrive as a human being.

In that way it is important to keep a focus on the overall factors that contribute to well-being in the senior population. One helpful, comprehensive report on this subject was recently released by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. A full copy of the research findings can be found Here.

The authors summarized the effort as one based on the notion that “it has become increasingly important for policymakers and the general public to have an accessible, easy-to-understand portrait of how older Americans fare.”

The effort includes a wealth of information on various topics directed on senior health, financial stability, and overall well-being. In general, the study separates material into five groups: population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care. It includes statistics collected from a wide-range of sources, and consequently offers the best “one-stop-shop” on senior well-being in America today.

Considering the comprehensive nature of the report, it is worthwhile to take a look at the primary source and browse the details. Overall, however, it is fair to say that the research effort reveals that, despite many challenges, many seniors are thriving.

Take, for example, longevity. In 1985, a 65-year old could expect to live for roughly 14 more years. Today, that has jumped to 20 years, with even longer life expectancies far from uncommon. Similarly, there has been a slight drop in disability, as medical advances are helping those age 65 to maintain certain abilities (eating, bathing, shopping, etc.) longer than in the past. Disability still strike most seniors, but it comes a few years later.

The trend is similar on economic factors. The percentage of seniors indicated as “poor” dropped from 15% a few decades ago to only 9% today. However, it is important to look at the details, as the definition of “poor” is a paltry $10,458 a year. Even then, one of the main reasons why this rate has decreased is because more and more seniors are working after 65 years old than in the past.

Of course, these general statistics are simply a summary snapshot–individual stories vary wildly. For all of the good, our New York City elder law attorneys know that it is naive to assume that things will get better for all seniors in the future. Considering the huge influx of seniors coming in the next few decades and the looming financial problems nationwide, some argue that the overall well-being of future seniors may deteriorate.

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