New Definition of 'old Age' Proposed

LONDON, Sept. 10 (UPI) — The cost of old age on health services in industrialized nations may need to be re-examined, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists from Stony Brook University along with colleagues from Austria say rising life expectancies and improved health means populations are aging more slowly and the burden may not be as dramatic as feared, the BBC reported Friday.

Their study, published in Science magazine, says aging shouldn’t be measured strictly by fixed chronological ages, which can be misleading.

“Most of our information about aging comes from indicators published by the United Nations and statistical agencies,” said Professor Warren Sanderson from Stony Brook.

“These indicators, which are used worldwide to determine healthcare and retirement costs, are based on chronological age and in many instances consider people as being old when they reach age 65 or even earlier,” he said.

But this measure is out of date, the researchers say, because people live longer and someone at age 65 isn’t an old person anymore.

Most healthcare costs occur in the last few years of a person’s life and these years happen at ever-later ages as life expectancies increase.

Population aging will be the source of many challenges in the future, the study says, “but there is no reason to exaggerate those challenges through mismeasurement,” it concludes.

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