Obesity threatening older Americans

Older Americans are enjoying healthier, longer lives than past generations. But rising housing costs and obesity rates may pose a new threat to these gains, researchers say.

The report, “Older Americans 2012: Key Indicators of Well-Being,” tracked trends at regular intervals to see how older people are faring as the U.S. population grows older.

Obesity, a major cause of preventable disease and premature death, is increasing among older people. By 2010, the obesity rate for people 65 and over was 38 percent, a jump from 22 percent between 1988-1994, the report said.

[See "Obesity rate tops 30 percent in 12 states"]

Another significant factor threatening seniors is the burden of increasing housing costs. In 1985, about 30 percent of households with householders or spouses age 65 and over spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing and utilities. By 2009, the proportion of older people with high housing cost burden reached 40 percent.

The report also shows there’s an increase in hospice use. The percentage of older people who received hospice care in the last 30 days of life increased from 19 percent in 1999 to 43 percent in 2009. The percentage of seniors who died at home increased from 15 percent in 1999 to 24 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, the percentage of older people who died in the hospital fell from 49 percent to 32 percent.

In 2010, seniors aged 65 and over accounted for 13 percent of the total U.S. population, but researchers predict that by 2030, they will make up nearly 20 percent of the population.

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