Aging Population Demands Attention

Article excerpt

I returned from Washington where I joined several fellow journalists at the National Press Foundation to discuss the aging phenomenon in our country, and the challenges it poses to us as individuals and as a society.

We heard from the leading experts in retirement and other aging issues about what's speeding down the pike.

The population of people over age 65 is expected to soar to almost 500 million by 2090, while the growth in the number of people under age 65 is expected to slow, according to actuaries from the Social Security Administration.

"In general, the population as a whole is aging," said Karen Glenn, one of those actuaries. "The older group is getting bigger, the younger group is getting smaller."

The range of aging topics our group looked at included the decline of savings, women and the financial transitions they face, rethinking retirement and paying for health care in retirement.

The overwhelming theme was that we have a retirement crisis in America. People aren't saving enough and many are clueless as to how much money they will actually need in retirement.

Women are at a disadvantage because many have chosen low-paying jobs and they often drop out of the work force to care for family, disrupting their income stream and jeopardizing their chances of earning pension benefits, if their employer offers a traditional pension plan at all.

Hispanics and blacks face challenges in savings for retirement because of lower net worth than whites and Asians, said Maya Rockeymoore, chief executive of Global Policy Solutions, a social change consulting firm in Washington. …