Among Seniors, a Declining Interest in Boosters
For decades, the benefits of a healthy diet and regular physical activity for seniors were a part of the benefits most commonly associated with Social Security.
But in the past five years, the growing number of seniors relying on the program for their old age has begun to strain programs that could have helped them meet basic health guidelines.
For instance, the number of seniors using medical care is down, as are their Medicare enrollment totals. And the number of senior beneficiaries using private medical insurance or supplemental insurance is on the rise.
The trend is causing a rethink among both providers and policymakers about what to do about this growing group of seniors.
“The question that I try to answer every time I meet with a client is, what type of income support program is appropriate for them?” said Mary Jane Smith, a spokeswoman for AARP.
For starters, it’s important to make sure that income support, like Social Security, isn’t in danger of going broke.
But many in the senior community are unhappy with how the Social Security system is financed, Smith said. Many are frustrated with the system’s relatively low tax rates — less than half of what the average worker pays in.
As for the growing numbers of seniors relying on the program for their old age, Smith said, “it is a problem.”
But she also added that Social Security is still a vital safety net program, because seniors who qualify for Social Security are “often also at high risk of financial and health ruin,” Smith wrote in an e-mail to The Times.
The increasing reliance on Social Security by seniors is a symptom of broader, though less visible trends in many countries around the world.
Some of these trends are due to demographics and others to the development of new technologies.
The growth of the elderly population has been seen in many places, most notably the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany.
For example, in Japan, the number of people over 65 years old rose by more than 24 percent between 2000 and 2007. And in Canada, the annual birth rate for people over 65 years old jumped to 1.1 percent from 0.5 percent in 1980.
And in the U.