Friday, January 15, 2010

The Oldest Old

The U.S. Census Bureau confirms the fastest growing demographic is “The Oldest Old,” the common label used to describe those over 85. With the 2010 census scheduled to roll out later this year, numbers for this demographic are expected to have increased significantly. Some estimates suggest that this population in the U.S. will grow to 8.6 million by 2030. And by 2050 this part of the population will represent five percent of the overall population versus 1.9% today.

The topic is gaining traction among researchers of every ilk. At a symposium held in February 2009 in India, the focus was on health and the dire straits the world population may be in as this demographic grows and consumes many health resources. Other research underscores the “resilience” of those who live into this “oldest old” category, highlighting that, with the exception of dementia, which increases with age, other psychological disorders, including depression, actually decrease significantly with this demographic.

An article in the September 14, 2009 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, reported that exercise among the oldest old shows benefits that translate into fewer physical disabilities, which ultimately impacts the possibility of staying independent.

Gussie Shelby reflects on turning 100 in November 2009. Raymond Fowler is pictured at 90. He wears a suit and tie every day since his wife died in 2006. He says his cellphone is full of phone numbers for "lady dance partners" and "friends."

How old are you? Please share your thoughts about growing older and perhaps reaching this “oldest old” mark. If you have reached that mark or know someone who has, tell us more.

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