Ranks of people reaching age 90 tripled since 1980: report

Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:31pm EST
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By Lauren Keiper

(Reuters) - The ranks of the nation's oldest residents are growing quickly now that people who reach age 90 are expected to live longer than ever before, according to a study released on Thursday.

The number of Americans age 90 and older nearly tripled in the past three decades, to the current 1.9 million from 720,000 in 1980, said a report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

That number may reach 9 million by 2050, according to the report titled "90+ in the United States: 2006-2008."

"I think it's going to grow even faster than predicted in the report," said Richard Suzman, director of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, which commissioned the study.

More folks over the age of 90 means increased stress on pension and retirement funds, health care costs and caretaker relationships with younger generations, the study said.

A person who makes it to 90 years old today is expected to live almost another five years, the study said. And, a person who lives to celebrate a 100th birthday is likely to live another 2.3 years.

An increase in education, improvements to nutrition and public health, a decline in smoking, diabetes controls and a reduction in strokes have been major factors contributing to the aging boom, Suzman said.

The report, which details the demographic, health and economic status of the oldest Americans, is based on the 2006- 2008 American Community Survey. It was released on the U.S. Census Bureau website.   Continued...