By Dean McFarland
Recently, I was reading the AARP bulletin and was taken back by its article concerning out-of-control alcohol abuse by those 65 years old and older. There has been an increase in excess of 100 percent over the past 15 years in that segment of the population. The article has the national average up some 49 percent for all age groups.
I believe this kind of alcohol consumption is usually due to wanting to escape reality. I began to wonder what other areas of our lives are being affected by our society and its related problems. My research came up with many; however, I’ve kept this article to nine areas of focus.
The first three troublesome statistics have to do with financial instability.
Lack of Savings
This country’s savings are very low, with 7 out of 10 people having less than $1,000 in savings, according to Forbes. For those 65 and older, 30 percent still are paying mortgages, according to a study by the National Institute on Aging. The average student loan is now $24,301, according to student loan debt statistics from the Center for Consumer Advocacy.
The average working person changes jobs 12 times in a 40-year working career, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This averages some 3.3 years with each job. No matter the reason, changing jobs requires considerably more effort and concentration.
Current home-ownership of Americans has dropped five percentage points since 2004, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The reasons people cite for not wanting to purchase a home include not being able to afford a down payment and wanting to remain flexible in case of job opportunities.
In my opinion, home-ownership is fundamental for families to grow with peace and unity in their lives.
The next three statistics have to do with poor mental health and addiction.
Illicit drug use
It is estimated that nearly 25 million Americans age 12 and older have used illicit drugs in the past month, and the epidemic is growing fast, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Crime rates have declined in most areas; however, Indianapolis is rated 10th of the top 10 cities for the most crime.
Depression and suicide
The amount of Americans who complete suicide has increased by 125 percent in the past two decades, with the largest increase in the 45- to 64-year-old age group.
Prescription drug use
One of the three leading prescribed drugs is for treating depression. Some 60 percent of the population is taking prescription drugs, which is much higher than in 2000.
The last three statistics reflect health statistics affecting Americans’ quality of life.
Fourty percent of the country is sleep-deprived and not getting the recommended eight hours of non-interrupted sleep, according to a 2013 Gallup poll.
Although accidents are down with the technology built into today’s cars, the leading cause of accidents still is distracted driving, with 3,400 deaths and more than 300,000 injuries attributed to people not paying attention behind the wheel in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Some 66 percent of adults are either overweight or obese, according to national studies. About a third of American children are considered overweight or obese. Poor eating habits are a major contributor to our declining health.
We seem to be ignoring the power of common reasoning, and we need to curtail this devastating lifestyle. It’s time to get off the bus and charter a new route that will bring back an enjoyable and fulfilling life. God created us to live a meaningful, stress-free life for ourselves and others. Life is short on this earth, and we should make the very best of it.
Dean McFarland is a member of the Hancock County Council on Aging. Send comments to dr-editorial@ greenfield reporter.com.