Aging population could have ongoing impact on economy

As the population of individuals over the age of 65 continues to inflate, the nation should prepare for significant changes.

A government-commissioned study from the National Research Council (NRC) says that, as the population of individuals over the age of 65 continues to inflate, the nation should prepare for significant changes to programs designed to benefit seniors.

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According to HealthDay News, the council estimates that the ratio of people over 65 years old relative to those who are between the ages of 20 to 64 is slated to climb 80 percent within the new few decades. Furthermore, the average life expectancy in the U.S. will increase 6.5 years - up to 84.5 years old - by 2050.

"The bottom line is that the nation has many good options for responding to population aging," said Roger Ferguson, a leader of the committee that authored the study. "Nonetheless, there is little doubt that there will need to be major changes in the structure of federal programs, particularly those for health. The transition to sustainable policies will be smoother and less costly if steps are taken sooner rather than later."

According the NRC's findings, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will have more people relying on services that will be equipped with fewer workers, due to a larger elderly population and lower birth rates. The agency stated it believes these programs will eventually need to be restructured. In addition, it advocates for increasing the age of retirement to 75, and encourages individuals approaching senior status to put extra effort into saving for retirement.

Sales for knee replacements on the rise

It seems that another result of the aging population is a substantial increase in the demand for knee replacement surgery.

The Associated Press has reported on findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, stating that the amount of knee replacement surgeries every year in the U.S. has doubled since 1991. Patients, on average, were in their mid-70s.

"There's a huge percentage of older adults who are living longer and want to be active," Peter Cram, an associate professor based at the University of Iowa, told the news source.