Earlier this week, I gave you five reasons to be optimistic about middle age. In brief: you'll live longer, your brain will keep developing, you'll be happier, your divorce may not be all that bad and you'll make loads of new friends on the AARP Facebook page.
But in addition to being an optimist, I'm also a realist. As promised, then, here are five reasons to be pessimistic about middle age:
- Social services can't keep up with aging population. Yes, people are living longer. That's the good news. But the general aging of the population will also place enormous burdens on social services, including health care delivery, informal care-giving and the pension system. So a lot will hinge on just how healthy this new crop of centenarians is. About 80 percent of seniors have at least one chronic health condition and 50 percent have at least two. In theory, the health care reform bill passed last year in America should help address some of these problems. But some experts warn that our public policies -- including health care reform -- just aren't up to the task of ensuring that our aging population gets the medical care it needs. In the worst case scenario -- not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well -- the old and the young will enter into a zero-sum conflict, fighting for scarce health care and economic resources.