New NIA Publication Features Health and Retirement Study
A new publication, "Growing Older in America: The Health and Retirement Study", is available online from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Schmalfeldt: It's a comprehensive look at the state of "Older America." A new publication, "Growing Older in America: The Health and Retirement Study", is available online from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. This study offers a look at the condition of older Americans, their health, work and economic status, as well as their retirement and family lives. It's based on the Health and Retirement Study, a national survey of Americans over age 50. Dr. Richard Suzman, Director of the Behavioral and Social Science Program at the NIA, said there are some surprising findings in the study.
Suzman: One of the things the study has done is (it has) given rise to other countries producing copies of the study so we can do comparisons. And we were very surprised to find out that those in the US, and we just looked at whites to keep it more controlled, but they had objectively worse health than their counterparts in England. When they controlled for things like smoking, exercise, obesity and other risk factors, there's still a significant amount — unexplained — of difference, so it's given rise to some interesting puzzles.
Schmalfeldt: Dr. Suzman said another surprising finding of the study was the impact of a serious illness within the age 65 and older group, and its effect on the family's financial status.
Suzman: It appeared that the onset of a serious disease, especially when coupled with some chronic resulting disability, ate up a fairly large fraction of peoples' wealth over a short time. And a good deal of that was not out-of-pocket medical expenditures, but loss of earnings, either from the individual affected or somebody else in the family like a spouse. So it seemed as if people were relatively uninsured for disability.
Schmalfeldt: The online publication is intended to familiarize policymakers, researchers, health and retirement experts, the news media and anyone interested in examining data on the combined health and economic conditions of older Americans. For more information, log on to www.nia.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Richard Suzman