6 Scary Facts About Aging

It’s almost Halloween and while most people are thinking about scary ghosts and zombies, we bet that ASA Members are also thinking about the scary realities that older adults face every day.

Here are 6 scary facts about aging and how ASA members are tackling them at the 2015 Aging in America Conference (March 23-27 in Chicago):


  1. One in seven older adults age 65 or older live in poverty.

    According to this Statement from the National Senior Citizens Law Center, poverty among older adults disproportionately impacts women, especially women of color, with twice as many older women as men living in poverty in 2012. Poverty rates were even higher for black (21.2%), Hispanic (21.8%) and Native American (27.1%) women 65 and older.

    Let's Talk Senior Poverty: What Are We Doing About It?
    Thursday, March 26 | 9:00–10:00 am

    Join Paul Nathanson, JD, Special Counsel at the National Senior Citizens Law Center and a former Chair of the American Society on Aging's Board of Directors at the 2015 Aging in America Conference where he will speak about the latest data and present a policy agenda for alleviating the impacts of poverty among older adults. 


  2. In 2014 there are an estimated 5.2 million Americans living with Alzheimer's Disease. This number is expected to rise to 13.8 million by 2050.

    Currently, it is 100% incurable and it is 100% fatal. —John Feather, PhD, CEO, Grantmakers in Aging and former Chair of ASA's Board of Directors, speaking about Alzheimer's Disease at the 2011 ASA Aging in America Conference. (Watch We Must Stop Alzheimer's by 2020: The Need for a New Era of Geri-Activism online.)

    The Alzheimer's Association reports that Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2013, 15.5 million family and friends provided 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care to those with Alzheimer's and other dementias. 

    National Forum: Person-Centered Care for People With Dementia
    Wednesday, March 25 | 1:00–4:00 pm

    National leaders and experts will come together at the 2015 Aging in America Conference in order to raise awareness and understanding about person-centered care for people with dementia and how to implement it in a wide range of health care, residential care, and home- and community-based care settings. The program will focus on the non-drug treatments and care practices designed by clinicians, care providers, researchers and others that can reduce, and sometimes even eliminate, difficult problems confronted by people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their family caregivers.


  3. 63% of older adults say they have experienced discrimination.

    Older adults are increasingly facing age discrimination in the workforce. According to this study, 63% of older adults say they have experienced discrimination. An AARP study found that one-third of respondents age 50 and older reported that they or someone they know had experienced age in discrimination in a workplace.

    Employing Older Workers Makes Good Business Sense
    Tuesday, March 24 | 9:00 am–1:30 pm

    By 2020, the baby boom generation will shift entirely into the 55-years-and-older age group, increasing that age group’s share of the labor force. This summit will bring together business leaders from around the nation to explore the business case for companies to hire and retain older workers and other issues facing employers and older employees.


  4. Unpaid family caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care every year. 

    In 2009, approximately 42.1 million  family caregivers in the United States provided care to an adult with limitations in daily activities at any given point in time, and about 61.6 million provided care at some time during the year, says the AARP Public Policy Institute.

    Family Caregiving: There’s Nothing “Informal” About It
    Tuesday, March 24 | 1:00–2:00 pm

    Lynn Friss Feinberg, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor at the AARP Policy Institute and Chair of the ASA Board of Directors will address the reasons why there is an urgent need to better recognize and support families in their caregiving roles and the importance of building a better care system that doesn’t rely too heavily on family caregivers.


  5. While 80% of long-term care in the U.S. is provided by family members, LGBT elders are twice as likely to be single and three to four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual counterparts.

    While marriage equality expands to more and more states in the United States, LGBT older adults continue to face barriers to care, support and services. An estimated 1.5 million adults age 65+ are lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) and those individuals are more likely to lack the family support that their heterosexual counterparts have, according to this fact sheet from Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

    Maximum Impact! Finding intersections to Make Older Lives Better
    Thursday, March 24 | 9:00 am–Noon

    Using a highly interactive format with roundtables, presentations and small group work, SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging brings together a group of experts from national organizations that make up one of ACL/AoA’s technical assistance resource centers to discuss their challenges and victories in multicultural aging policy advocacy and services provision. The audience will interact with the experts to discuss what is most needed now and what organizations could be doing in the future.


  6. The Older Americans Act has not been reauthorized since it expired in 2011.

    The OAA was signed into law in 1965 and is a primary vehicle for developing, coordinating, and delivering home- and community-based services that help older adults maintain their independence. The Act also authorizes the only federal workforce program targets to help low-income elders prepare for and obtain employment. And the OAA's long-term care ombudsman program works to protect the rights and well-being of those older adults who do live in assisted living or nursing home facilities in our communities. In short, the provisions of the Older Americans Act improve the lives of older individuals and family caregivers across the nation.

    The OAA and the Aging Network: Aging Prematurely?
    Tuesday, March 24 | 2:30–3:30 pm

    For 50 years, the Older Americans Act has stood as the public expression of America’s aspirations for our society’s members as they age. As the nation’s population is aging, we struggle to enact a re-commitment to those basic principles. Richard Browdie, MBA, President and CEO of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and a former Chair of ASA's Board of Directors, will explore likely causes and solutions for the Network’s weakened ability to deliver its message.

Spiderweb image courtesy of Alefo, Flickr