- The older population (65+) numbered 39.6 million in 2009, an increase of 4.3 million or 12.5% since 1999.
- The number of Americans aged 45-64 – who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 26% during this decade.
- Over one in every eight, or 12.9%, of the population is an older American.
- Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.6 years (19.9 years for females and 17.2 years for males).
- Older women outnumber older men at 22.7 million older women to 16.8 million older men.
- In 2009, 19.9% of persons 65+ were minorities--8.3% were African-Americans.** Persons of Hispanic origin (who may be of any race) represented 7.0% of the older population. About 3.4% were Asian or Pacific Islander,** and less than 1% were American Indian or Native Alaskan.** In addition, 0.6% of persons 65+ identified themselves as being of two or more races.
- Older men were much more likely to be married than older women--72% of men vs. 42% of women (Figure 2). 42% older women in 2009 were widows.
- About 30% (11.3 million) of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone (8.3 million women, 3.0 million men).
- Half of older women (49%) age 75+ live alone.
- About 475,000 grandparents aged 65 or more had the primary responsibility for their grandchildren who lived with them.
- The population 65 and over will increase from 35 million in 2000 to 40 million in 2010 (a 15% increase) and then to 55 million in 2020 (a 36% increase for that decade).
- The 85+ population is projected to increase from 4.2 million in 2000 to 5.7 million in 2010 (a 36% increase) and then to 6.6 million in 2020 (a 15% increase for that decade).
- Minority populations are projected to increase from 5.7 million in 2000 (16.3% of the elderly population) to 8.0 million in 2010 (20.1% of the elderly) and then to 12.9 million in 2020 (23.6% of the elderly).
- The median income of older persons in 2009 was $25,877 for males and $15,282 for females. Median money income (after adjusting for inflation) of all households headed by older people rose 5.8% (statistically significant) from 2008 to 2009. Households containing families headed by persons 65+ reported a median income in 2009 of $43,702.
- The major sources of income as reported by older persons in 2008 were Social Security (reported by 87% of older persons), income from assets (reported by 54%), private pensions (reported by 28%), government employee pensions (reported by 14%), and earnings (reported by 25%).
- Social Security constituted 90% or more of the income received by 34% of beneficiaries in 2008 (21% of married couples and 43% of non-married beneficiaries).
- Almost 3.4 million elderly persons (8.9%) were below the poverty level in 2009. This poverty rate is statistically different from the poverty rate in 2008 (9.7%).
- About 11% (3.7 million) of older Medicare enrollees received personal care from a paid or unpaid sour
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- If you are taking vitamins or supplements
Alternative medicine and herbal remedies may be great for some to help manage chronic conditions, but cardiologists warn certain supplements can pose serious risks to people who are also taking medications for heart disease.
From alfalfa to yohimbine, a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology lists more than two dozen herbal products patients with cardiovascular disease should avoid.
- If you have undergone tests from other doctors
Patients may sometimes be shy about admitting to their physician that they have received a second opinion or additional testing, says Dr. Richard Stein, a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association.
"Your goal walking out is to get the best health care -- not to make the doctor feel good," he says. If you've had a blood test, EKG, echocardiogram or angiogram, Stein says to keep your own patient file and bring it with you to your appointment.
"It's not fair to expect a doctor to understand the seriousness of your condition if they don't have all of the information."
If you have skipped your medications
"Patients often lie about taking blood pressure or cholesterol medication," says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, director of the Women's Heart Program at New York University. She says sometimes they believe these drugs aren't necessary if they alter their diet. While that may be true in the long term, the effects of diet change are not as immediate, and the patient may be prolonging the problem.
Goldberg also says another potential problem arises when your cardiologist reads blood pressure and checks your cholesterol levels and notices no change. "You don't want to accidentally be given a prescription for a higher dose, when you're not even taking the lower dose," she explains.
If you are going through hard times
A patient says during the time of her first heart attack, she had been grappling with years of domestic violence and abuse, and she was at a breaking point.
However, it wasn't until 2007, one year after having another stent implanted, when she finally brought this up to her doctor.
"When you're under stress you have extra adrenaline that can stimulate the heart to skip beats and have palpitations," says Dr. Alfred Bove, past president of the American College of Cardiology.
He says patients who have experienced some serious life trauma -- like a death, layoffs, divorce, or even just a stressful job -- may have elevated blood pressure and should be monitored more vigilantly.
If you haven't really stuck to your diet
"Everyone wants to put their best foot forward, so it's easy to come in and say you've started an exercise program when it really didn't happen," says Goldberg. "But just saying you exercised doesn't improve your cardiovascular health."
In fact, it could be harmful, says Stein.
"If a patient tells me they don't have chest pains, but they are doing nothing in terms of physical activity, then I'm not getting an accurate picture of the shape their heart is really in," he explains. "I may want to do a stress test to see what really happens when you exercise."
The entire article can be read at www.CNN.com.