One Size Does Not Fit All – Redefining Age

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on April 28, 2016 · 0 comments

In a recent study researchers argued that we need to apply better measures to define our aging population. Aging is a multidimensional phenomenon. Defining people as old at age 65 no longer fits real-world data because people all over the world are healthier and live longer. Many are still working.
In countries throughout the world, age 65 is used as a cutoff for everything from pensions to health care systems. This is based on a demographic measure known as the old-age dependency ratio which defines everyone over 65 as depending on the population below them aged 20 to 65. Estimates of costs, most notably health care costs, based on this metric could massively overestimate future costs. There are many policy issues facing the US and other countries which need good estimates of future costs. The exaggerations of costs that older citizens place on a country, based on conventional measures, can markedly skew what is really needed by that population as they age and can result in policies that are wrong. Gathering more accurate data on those currently over 65 and working on prevention to keep those under 65 healthy could have a major impact on future spending.
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