The number of older American adults is unprecedented in the history of our country because of longer lifespans and the aging of the baby boomers.
Much of the twenty-first century will be defined by the aging of the population. Today about thirteen percent of Americans are over age 65. By the year 2025 this number is expected to grow to over twenty percent, as life span extends well into the eighth decade. Health professionals must separate changes observed in old age that are due to the inevitable aging process from those that are manifestations of pathology. Health professionals must also help to extend the years of productive life through improved health, lifestyle, and psychosocial status.
The challenge for the twenty-first century will be to make these added years as healthy and productive as possible and to continue the current trend of decline in disability across all segments of the population.