The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics released two reports highlighting key trends in life expectancy and suicide rates in the United States for 2022.
While the reports offer encouraging news about an increase in life expectancy, they also raise concerns about rising suicide rates.
- Life expectancy at birth increased by 1.1 years, from 76.4 in 2021 to 77.5 in 2022.
- This increase partially recovers the 2.4 years of life expectancy lost between 2019 and 2021, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The largest increase in life expectancy was observed among American Indian-Alaskan Native (AIAN) people, who regained 2.3 years.
- All racial and ethnic groups experienced increases in life expectancy, with the Hispanic population experiencing the second-largest gain.
- Declines in mortality due to COVID-19, heart disease, unintentional injuries, cancer, and homicide were the primary factors contributing to the increased life expectancy.
- The number of suicides increased by 3% from 48,183 in 2021 to 49,449 in 2022, marking the highest number ever recorded in the U.S.
- The suicide rate per 100,000 also reached its highest level since 1941, increasing from 14.1 in 2021 to 14.3 in 2022.
- The percentage increase in suicides was higher for females (4%) than males (2%), but males still accounted for nearly four times the number of suicides as females.
- All age groups 35 and older experienced an increase in suicide rates, with the largest increase observed among individuals aged 55-64.
Adults 50+ See Increase in Life Expectancy
The statistics paint a generally positive picture of life expectancy for adults aged 50 and older in the United States. The average life expectancy at birth for the entire U.S. population in 2022 was 77.5 years, representing an increase of 1.1 years from 2021.
This upward trend was particularly noticeable among adults 50+. Individuals aged 50-54 saw their life expectancy rise by 0.8 years, reaching 82.2 years in 2022. For those aged 55-59, life expectancy increased by 0.9 years, reaching 80.1 years.
Adults aged 60-64 experienced a 1.0-year gain, bringing their life expectancy to 77.9 years. The largest increase was observed among individuals aged 65-69, whose life expectancy jumped by 1.2 to 75.6 years.
Life Expectancy Beyond 80: Insights from Latest CDC Data
Those who reach the age of 80 can expect to live significantly longer, with noticeable differences between men and women.
|Age at Entry
|Life Expectancy (Male)
|Life Expectancy (Female)
|Remaining Years (Male)
|Remaining Years (Female)
Age Paradox of Increased Life Expectancy and Chronic Illness
As medical advancements extend life expectancy, a paradoxical situation arises: the longer we live, the more likely we are to experience chronic illnesses, mobility problems, frailty due to aging, and the need for supervision due to dementia. This complex interplay between longevity and health challenges demands careful consideration for long-term care planning.
Chronic Illnesses on the Rise:
- The CDC reports that nearly six in ten adults in the United States have at least one chronic illness, with the prevalence increasing significantly among older adults.
- Common chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis are associated with reduced mobility, increased disability, and higher healthcare costs.
- By 2050, the number of individuals aged 65 and older with multiple chronic conditions is projected to double, placing a significant strain on healthcare systems and long-term care resources.
Mobility Challenges and Frailty:
- Decreased physical function and mobility are inevitable consequences of aging.
- The CDC estimates that one in four adults aged 65 and older report difficulty walking or climbing stairs, limiting their independence and increasing their risk of falls and injuries.
- Frailty, a syndrome characterized by decreased physical reserves and vulnerability to stress, further exacerbates mobility challenges and increases the need for assistance with daily activities.
- By 2030, the number of frail older adults in the United States is projected to reach 14 million, highlighting the growing need for accessible housing, transportation options, and supportive care services.
Dementia and the Need for Supervision:
- Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia are debilitating conditions that affect cognitive function and memory.
- The Alzheimer's Association estimates that over 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a number that is projected to reach 13 million by 2050.
- Individuals with dementia often require increasing levels of supervision and assistance with daily living activities, placing a significant burden on family caregivers and the long-term care system.
- Innovative approaches to dementia care, including assisted living facilities and home care options, are crucial to address this growing need.
Planning for the Future:
- Recognizing the rising risk of chronic illness, mobility challenges, frailty, and dementia in the aging population necessitates proactive planning for long-term care.
- Early planning allows individuals to consider their preferences, make informed decisions regarding long-term care options, and involve families in the process.
- Financial planning and exploring Long-Term Care Insurance options can help ensure financial security and access to quality care in later years.
Lack of Planning
By acknowledging the increasing health challenges associated with increased life expectancy, there are proactive steps you can take to prepare for the future and ensure a dignified and fulfilling later life.
Several states are looking at ways to encourage the purchase of Long-Term Care Insurance and provide state-provided options, funded by a tax, to provide minimal long-term care benefits for those without private LTC insurance. In addition, Medicaid will provide long-term care benefits for those with little or no income and assets.
Traditional health insurance, including Medicare, pays for a limited number of days of skilled long-term care services and pays nothing toward custodial care service (help with activities of daily living or supervision due to dementia.) LTC Insurance (and Medicaid for those who qualify) will also pay for custodial care.
Private Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so someone applying for coverage must meet these guidelines. Most people obtain coverage in their 40s or 50s; however, those in their 60s and older can find options depending on their level of health.
Financial Burden of Long-Term Care: Impact on Individuals, Families, and Assets
Long-term care significantly impacts an individual's financial well-being, often depleting their savings and assets. According to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator, in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home costs are rising sharply nationwide, highlighting the significant financial strain long-term care can impose. This burden can quickly exhaust individual savings, leaving them reliant on family support or public assistance programs like Medicaid.
The impact of long-term care extends beyond the individual, affecting families who often become unpaid caregivers or managers of professional paid care. AARP's 2022 Caregiving in the U.S. report estimates that 45.5 million adults provide unpaid care to a loved one, with 23.2 million assisting with tasks like bathing, dressing, and medication management.
This unpaid caregiving can lead to lost wages, reduced work hours, and career sacrifices, impacting the families' financial stability. Additionally, managing professional paid care involves significant time and emotional effort, often resulting in stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Longevity certainly has benefits, yet it can significantly influence retirement planning, including long-term care considerations. This extended lifespan can disrupt even the most well-thought-out plans, affecting both family dynamics and financial stability.
Suicide Rates on Rise for Adults 55-64
Experts have identified several potential reasons for the rise in suicide rates among individuals aged 55-64 in the 2022 CDC report:
- Economic factors: This age group may be particularly vulnerable to economic stressors like job loss, retirement insecurity, housing instability, and rising healthcare costs. These financial anxieties can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and despair, increasing suicide risk.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated these economic difficulties, leading to financial hardship and job losses, particularly for those approaching retirement.
- Health factors: This age group is more likely to experience chronic health conditions and pain, which can significantly impact quality of life and lead to depression and anxiety, increasing suicide risk.
Loneliness and social isolation are also prevalent among this age group, as they may experience empty nest syndrome, retirement from social circles, or loss of loved ones. These factors can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness and contribute to suicidal thoughts.
Access to mental health services may be limited, especially in rural areas, making it difficult for individuals to seek help and address mental health challenges that contribute to suicide risk.
- Social and cultural factors: This generation may face unique social pressures, including expectations to provide financial support for family members across generations, manage aging parents, and maintain a certain lifestyle. These pressures can lead to stress and anxiety, contributing to suicide risk.
Stigma surrounding mental health and seeking help may also be a factor, preventing individuals from accessing necessary support and treatment.
Additionally, experts have noted that this age group may have missed out on preventative mental health care earlier in life, leaving them more vulnerable to mental health challenges later in life. The increased awareness of suicide risk due to the pandemic may have led to a more accurate reporting of suicide cases in this age group in 2022.
Suicide Rates in Adults 75+ and the Impact of Declining Health/Dementia
The latest data on suicide rates in adults 75+ reveals a concerning trend: this age group has one of the highest suicide rates in the U.S. According to the CDC's 2022 Provisional Estimates of Suicide by Demographic Characteristics, the suicide rate for individuals aged 75 and older was 20.3 deaths per 100,000 population. This is significantly higher than the national average of 14.3 deaths per 100,000.
While comprehensive data on suicide rates specifically for individuals with declining health or dementia is not readily available, research suggests a strong link between these conditions and increased suicide risk. Several factors contribute to this:
- Depression and Anxiety: Declining health often leads to depression and anxiety, which are major risk factors for suicide. The physical and emotional burden of chronic illness or cognitive decline can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of hopelessness and despair.
- Social Isolation: Individuals with declining health or dementia may experience social isolation due to difficulty with mobility, communication, or participation in activities. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression, further increasing suicide risk.
- Loss of Independence and Control: Declining health and dementia often lead to a loss of independence and control over one's life. This can be a major source of stress and frustration, contributing to suicidal thoughts.
- Access to Mental Health Care: Access to mental health services can be limited for older adults, especially in rural areas. This lack of access can make it difficult for individuals to receive the support and treatment they need to address mental health challenges that contribute to suicide risk.
- Access to lethal means: Older adults may have easier access to firearms or prescription medications, which can increase the risk of successful suicide attempts.
- The stigma surrounding mental health and seeking help: Stigma surrounding mental health may prevent older adults from seeking help for depression or suicidal thoughts.
Resources for individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
- The Jed Foundation
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
About the Author
Contributor since April 22nd, 2021
As you map out your future, it's essential to think about how your potential need for long-term care might affect your spouse and adult children. Picture yourself in a situation where you need extended care.
Statistically, about half of those who reach 65 will require assistance with daily activities or supervision due to memory loss, or possibly both. Consider the impact this could have on your loved ones, not just emotionally, but also on their lives, careers, and families. Your spouse, probably older as well, may struggle to balance caregiving with their own health and interests.
For your adult children, stepping into a caregiving role could lead to significant life adjustments, like altering work schedules or cutting back on professional responsibilities, potentially impacting their career progression, financial security, and their family's well-being. The combined emotional and physical demands of caregiving and the stress of managing care costs can significantly strain their lives.
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