Ojai's aging ahead of pace
by Cheryl Gilman
People over 85 years of age are the fastest growing segment of
the American population, with more than four million in this
age group and counting.
In Ventura County, there are 8,300 people over the age of 85,
or 1.2 percent of the population. In Ojai, the number jumps to
309 or 3.9 percent of the residents - three times the county
The 2000 U.S. Census reports that the median age in the U.S.
is 35.9 years old; in California that median age is 33.3; in
Ventura County, 34.2.
In the city of Ojai, it is 42 years, with 1,405 people (17.9
per cent of the population) in this community 65 years old or
older. That contrasts with 76,804 (10.2 percent) in Ventura County,
3.6 million (10.6 percent) in California, and 35 million (7.9
percent) in the U.S.
The life expectancy reported in 1997 from the National Vital
Statistics System states that women's expectance from birth is
79.4 years, and 73.5 for men. If men should live to 65, they
can expect another 15.9 years (80.9), and for women that figure
rises to 19.2 years (84.2). For those who make it to 85, men
can look forward to being around at 90 and women to at least
With age, of course, comes infirmity, and with infirmity, come
mounting medical expenses.
The U.S. Bureau of Census reports that half of those more than
85 will need some help with personal care. A Met Life Study calculated
that "American businesses lose between $11 billion and $29
billion each year due to employees' needs to care for loved ones
50 years of age and older."
In 1998, the percentage of older adults with moderate or severe
memory impairment ranged from about 4 percent among persons ages
65 to 69 to about 36 percent among persons age 85 or older.
Chronic diseases are rarely cured and can cause significant financial
and health burdens, not only to the patient, but also to their
families and the nation's health care system. In 1995, about
58 percent of persons age 70 or older reported having arthritis,
45 percent reported having hypertension, and 21 percent reported
having heart disease. Other chronic diseases included cancer
(19 percent), diabetes (12 percent), and stroke (9 percent).
About 64 percent of older women reported having arthritis, 48
percent reported having hypertension, and 19 percent reported
having heart disease. Older men were less likely to report having
arthritis (50 percent) and hypertension (41 percent), but were
more likely to report having heart disease (25 percent). Men
were also more like to have had cancer (23 percent), compared
with women (17 percent).
A Panel Study of Income Dynamics said, "The median household
net worth for those 65 or older in the U.S. was reported to be
$157,600. Net worth includes real estate and vehicles, farm or
business ownership, stocks, mutual funds, investment trusts,
and stocks held in IRAs; checking and savings accounts, CDs,
treasury bills, savings bonds, and liquid assets in IRAs; bonds,
trusts, life insurance and other assets. This figure excludes
the present value of future private pensions and rights to future
Social Security payments."
Married people older than 65 in the U.S. reported a net worth
of $234,000 contrasted to $84,000 for those unmarried.
The Consumer Expenditure Study states that people 65 or older
can expect to spend between 9 to 14 percent of their income on
out-of-pocket health care expenditures. This study's 1996 data
states "the average health care expenditures among Medicare
beneficiaries increases from age 65-69 of $5,900 to $16,500 at
85 or older."
Nursing home or assisted living?
Nursing homes are often a safer and more practical choice
than in-home care for those who have trouble:
Bathing or showering
And/or have varying degrees of memory loss and decreased ability
to drive or walk.
(Medicare and Medicaid can cover costs of nursing home care provided
certain requirements are met. Medicare covers the cost of care
for part of but not all of the first 100 days in a nursing home.
It is meant to address the rehabilitative portion of one's stay,
typically occurring after a hospital stay of three days or longer.
Medicaid covers long-term nursing home care, but only after one's
personal finances have diminished. Specific asset eligibility
requirements are different in every state.)
Consider assisted living or an independent living facility
if your elderly parent and/or loved one:
Walks (with or without the use of a walker)
Can manage his or her finances
Is a capable driver
Needs only minimal help with daily living activities
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news