Americans are living longer, but how will that extended lifespan affect your clients’ plans for retirement? By 2050, about 20 percent of Americans will be 65 or older, U.S. News and World Report writes – that’s about 90 million people. Of those, 11 percent will be 75 or older, and 9 percent will be between 65 and 74. The magazine highlights some trends that will shape seniors retirements.

1. Financial protection (or the lack thereof). The poverty rate among seniors is about 10 percent – not bad compared to the national poverty rate of 13.2 percent – but an additional one-quarter of seniors are near the poverty line, according to U.S. News.

“When the recession’s financial impact is clearer in a year or two, the picture may get worse, because of rising healthcare costs and the absence of cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) in Social Security benefits,” the magazine writes.

2. A decrease in depression. Seniors are less likely to be depressed but the 40-59-year-old group is especially at risk. Over 7 percent of people in this age group report being depressed.

3. An increase in chronic health problems. Not much of a surprise here, but the magazine points to data from 2007 which shows that the percentage of people over 65 who said a chronic condition limited their activities was more than double the percentage of the 18-64 set. And, as chronic conditions increase, so too will the cost of health care. U.S. News cites one survey that shows people over 65 paid an average 15 percent of their health care expenses out-of-pocket in 2006. Those with private health insurance paid even more; 21 percent of health care expenses were paid out-of-pocket, according to the magazine.

4. Alzheimer’s will become the main cause of death. Alzheimer’s was responsible for only 4 percent of deaths in 2006, but it’s expected to take over as the leading cause of death, the magazine writes. A study by the Alzheimer’s Association found the number of deaths attributed to the disease increased over 46 percent between 2000 and 2006. In contrast, heart disease deaths decreased over 11 percent in the same time period. According to the Association, people 60 or over with Alzheimer’s live an average of four to six years after their diagnosis.

5. Fitness will fall as stress and weight increase. Women suffer higher rates of hypertension and high cholesterol, according to data cited by U.S. News. About 65 percent of senior men suffer hypertension, compared with between 70 percent and 80 percent of women. Nearly twice as many women suffer high cholesterol than men – 19-24 percent compared with 10 percent – and about one-third of seniors are clinically obese, the magazine writes.