They’re Surprisingly Fit, And So Are Their Finances

As the U.S. population ages, you’d expect it to become infirm. That hasn’t happened yet, according to a report by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Americans age 65 and up are proclaimed to be “living longer and feeling better.” An “overwhelming majority” say their health is “good or excellent.” This jibes with data showing a rise in the number of older Americans engaged in physical activity. Between 1985 and 1995, thepercentage classified as “sedentary” fell from 34 percent to 28 percent among men and from 44 percent to 39 percent among women. While the shift may sound modest, it’s striking in an elderly population that’s been skewing older. As the report notes, the 85-plus cohort is “currently the fastest growing segment of the older population.” This is also where a significant downside emerges: “one-third or more of men and women age 85 and older have moderate or severe memory impairment and 23 percent of this group experience severe depressive symptoms.” As for the economic aspect of seniors’ well-being, the report refers to one survey showing “median net worth among households headed by older people jumped 69 percent between 1984 and 1999.” On the other hand, Social Security provides about 80 percent of income for old folks in the lower two income quintiles.Peter Burian/Picture Quest