The Implications of the Declining Health of Middle-Aged Americans

Pity poor Social Security: it’s about to sustain another big blow.

Founded in 1935 as an economic safety net for older Americans, it’s been a political football for many of the years since.

Now, thanks to a new study showing middle-aged Americans in 2017 are less healthy than prior generations, ever more demands are likely to be made on the fund. That’s what Healthline reported recently.

Researchers at the University of Michigan compared the health profiles of people in their 50s with those of people over 60.

They found more illness and more reports from the younger people of their health being only “fair” or “poor.”

Meanwhile, the law determining eligibility for Social Security has changed.

According to the study, published in the October issue of the journal Health Affairs, “To receive full Social Security benefits, Americans born after 1937 must claim those benefits at an older age than earlier birth cohorts.”


Chris Orestis, executive vice president of secondary markets for GWG Life, told Healthline he sees several looming problems.

“As social safety nets are stretched by [a post-baby boomer population], there will be more pressure to increase the minimum ages to qualify,” Orestis told Healthline. “For aging people who find their health becoming compromised at a younger age than in the past, this can make an already difficult situation almost impossible.”

“Life expectancy has been increasing over human history and made considerable leaps in the 20th and now into the 21st centuries,” Orestis explained. “Many factors contributed to the increase such as technology, medical advances, safer transportation and habitation, improved workplace conditions and better regulations. But at the same time, increases in morbidity and cognitive conditions have had an impact on quality of life for people as they live longer.”

Take steps now

This leads to the irresistible force paradox: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

So far, nobody knows.

That’s the big picture.

But Orestis, an insurance expert, sees hope on an individual scale.

“There is no avoiding aging, so the more you do today to be ready the better off things will be for you and your loved ones,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what age you are now. It is never too late to start. You can eat better, exercise more, get active, and stay connected with family and friends.

“You can start informing yourself about how to be ready for long-term care by understanding the different types of care, how to pay for it, how to recognize when the need for care arrives, and how to work together as a family to make sure things go as smoothly as possible,” he added.

Particularly since no one knows what shape Social Security will be in by then.

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