Americans: retiring later and getting sicker

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The age when Americans can claim full Social Security benefits is rising from 65 in 2002 to 67 in 2027 which means many of us are pushing retirement and working later into life.

Youd hope to see increasing life expectancies and prolonged healthiness to even out this trend, but new data reported from the journalHealth Affairsvia aBloombergreport suggests otherwise. Older Americans have more serious health problems than they used to, making it difficult to enjoy these shortened retirement periods.

The authors of the Health Affairs article write that a primary reason for increasing the normal retirement age was that life expectancy improved substantially since Social Security was created, but Bloomberg reveals data from theSociety of Actuarieswhich says the number of deaths per year rose 1.2% from 2014 to 2015 the first year-over-year increase since 2005.

When health cant keep up

Even if we are living relatively consistent lifespans, the data shows that Americans in their late 50s have more serious health issues than folks the same age did 10 to 15 years ago.

The Health Affairs article looked at survey data to compare the health of older Americans using ADL (activity of daily living) measures. ADL limitations include actions like walking across a room, self-dressing, self-bathing, feeding oneself and getting into or out of bed. The number of Americans with these limitations rose from 8.8% of people who have a retirement age of 65 to 12.5% of people at the current retirement age of 66 who had them in their late 50s.

The study looked at cognitive health, too. Eleven percent of Americans set to retire at 66 already showed signs of cognitive decline or dementia at age 58 to 60, which is up from 9.5% from Americans with a retirement age of 65 to 66.

Whats to blame?

We knowAmericas inequality is one big threatto living long, healthy lives, but Bloomberg also points to the prevalence of suicide, drug overdoses, alcohol abuse and obesity that could be playing roles in death rates and overall health decline.

Working longer can begood for Americans pockets, but if our bodies and minds arent being taken care of, is it really worth it?

Before coming to Next Avenue, Grace was the associate editor and social media manager for two different trade magazines at Macfadden Communications Group in New York.Grace graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a BA in journalism and minor in gender, women and sexuality studies, and she was the editor in chief of the University of Minnesotas student magazine, The Wake.She volunteers as an editor for the local feminist quarterly, The Riveter Magazine. Reach her by email

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