Americans Are Retiring Older, Dying Younger & Are Sicker Between – Why?
The End of a Trend?
The average age of retirement in the US is rising, but that increase in working years isn’t necessarily translating to a more fulfilling retirement. New data on retired Americans released by the Society of Actuaries suggests our overall health is declining and individuals working today can expect shorter, less active and less healthy golden years than previous generations.
By the Numbers
Here are the hard numbers: The U.S. age-adjusted mortality rate (a measure of the number of deaths per age group per year) increased 1.2 percent from 2015 to 2016. That’s the first time it’s increased since 2005, and only the second time it’s risen more than 1 percent since 1980. At the same time, public policy changes mean many more Americans are delaying calling it quits as the age retirees can claim full social security benefits gradually moves up. Even today, almost a third of Americans aged 65 to 69 are still working, along with one in five in their early 70’s.
While working extra years has historically meant a healthier, more fulfilling retirement, recent studies indicate a more sobering reality. According to the journal Health Affairs, Americans in their 50’s already have significantly more health problems than individuals at the same ages did even 10 or 15 years ago.
The authors of the study used survey data to look at the percentage of retirement-age Americans who had trouble with an “activity of daily living” (ADL), such as feeding or bathing themselves, walking across a room, or getting out of bed. They found that 12.5% Americans in their late 50’s today had ADL limitations, a jump from 8.8% just a decade ago. They also found that a full 25% of those individuals rated their overall health as fair to poor, up almost 3% from 10 years ago.
Unsurprisingly, spine-related conditions – especially low back pain – are at the top of the list for contributing causes.
Why Are We Losing Progress?
The research is just part of a slew of evidence showing the health of Americans – especially spine health – is deteriorating. Researchers point to spiking obesity rates and a reluctance to seek out treatment when problems are most easily-correctable as reasons for why the population’s health is getting worse.
The Bottom Line
Want to avoid chronic spine problems in your retirement years? Back pain, even intermittent pain that comes and goes, is never normal and the biomechanical problems that are usually responsible for it are often present for months or years before they become noticeable. While drugs can temporarily mask symptoms, they do little to treat the root of the problem and often lead to further degeneration and more serious problems down the line.
Chiropractic, on the other hand, relieves symptoms while addressing the underlying cause of pain and restoring function. At Ascent Chiropractic we correct problems in the spine using gentle, low-force chiropractic and physical therapy techniques that are both safe and effective for patients of all ages. If you’re in the Brookfield, Wauwatosa or New Berlin areas and suffering with back or neck pain, we’d love to help. To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.
Choi H, Schoeni RF.Health Of Americans Who Must Work Longer To Reach Social Security Retirement Age. Health Aff (Millwood). 2017 Oct 1;36(10):1815-1819.