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Other Nations Still Top U.S. in Life Expectancy

Posted: Cami McEvers

WASHINGTON  -  Although Americans are living longer than before, their life expectancies still lag behind those of other countries, a government report found.

For example, Japanese women age 65 could expect to live 3.7 years longer than American women of the same age, while Japanese men age 65 live 1.3 years longer than U.S. men, according to the report, which was issued Thursday by the National Institute on Aging.

The report, " Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being," tracks trends in those older than 65 in categories ranging from health to housing to economics.

The report also found that obesity rates continued to rise, and the condition persists as a major cause of premature death for older people. In 2009 to 2010, 38% of people 65 and older were obese. That's up from 1988 to 1994, when 22% were obese.

Other findings included:

  • Death rates for heart disease and stroke declined by nearly 50% since 1981, but chronic lower respiratory disease increased by 57%.
  • Hospice care use in the final 30 days of life jumped to 43% in 2009 from 19% in 1999.
  • More older people are dying at home (24% in 2009 versus 15% in 1999) rather than in hospitals (32% in 2009 versus 49% in 1999).
  • Women reported higher levels of arthritis than men (56% versus 45%, respectively), while men reported higher levels of heart disease (37% versus 26%).

In addition, more Americans 65 and older are enrolling in health maintenance organizations and other Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, and they also are spending more money out-of-pocket on healthcare, the report found. In 2009, 28% of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in an MA program, up from 16% in 2005.

Out-of-pocket spending for health care services among the poor and near-poor elderly increased to 22% of income in 2009  -  up from 12% three decades ago.

Source:  David  Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: August 19, 2012

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