Aging

Children born today in the United States can expect to live nearly 78 years. That life expectancy is a great leap forward from 1900, when the average newborn couldn’t expect to reach age 50. Similar increases have been seen in in developed nations all around the world. In the 20th century, life expectancy increased more than it had in any century since the beginning of human civilization.

Life expectancy at various ages in teh United States

And the longer you live, the longer you can expect to live. Average life expectancy for a newborn American is 78 years, while it is 84 years for a 65-year-old and 87 years for a 75-year old.

But extending the lifespan has also increased the burden of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, and other conditions that tend to affect older individuals. Most of these diseases, though, aren't inevitable consequences of aging. Instead, many are preventable.

Solid research from long-term studies such as the Framingham Heart Study, the Nurses' Health Study, and others have shown that the combination of not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar in check can prevent three-quarters or more of these chronic conditions.

Aging Articles

Am I too young for a knee replacement?

Doctors often want to wait until a person is 60 or older to perform knee replacement surgery, because these artificial joints typically only last 15 to 20 years. But some people opt to have the procedure sooner if knee pain is causing significant disability. (Locked) More »

Beyond fractures: The fall injuries you don’t always hear about

Falls cause many serious and sometimes fatal injuries. For example: fractures can cause people to become temporarily or permanently disabled; long periods recuperating in bed can lead to pneumonia; and head injuries can trigger bleeding in the space between the skull and the brain. People who fall and are unable to move for hours may develop a potentially life-threatening breakdown of muscle tissue that can cause kidney failure. With so much at stake, it’s crucial to do everything possible to avoid falls, such as addressing underlying conditions that cause imbalance. (Locked) More »

Caregiving during the pandemic

Overseeing care for a loved one who is in a nursing home or an assisted living facility is challenging when phone calls are the primary means of communication. Asking certain questions during a phone call with a loved one—such as whether the person has seen anyone that day or been outside of his or her room—may offer clues. When speaking with staff, it helps to inquire about the loved one’s social contacts, mood, muscle strength, eating and sleeping habits, medication changes, continence, hygiene, and thinking skills. (Locked) More »

Don’t ignore depression

Depression may be more common as people age, but new data suggest that the biggest threat to older adults’ mental health is their failure to recognize its symptoms and seriousness. Many chalk up depression as a normal part of aging, but addressing it as a real and treatable disease can help older adults seek the help they need and not needlessly suffer. More »

Focusing on your future

People may understand their life spans are limited, but they often don’t internalize how much time they actually have left. This mindset can delay goal setting and long-term preparation, which increases the chances of later problems in areas like finances, housing, and health. But embracing this reality of mortality can help people grasp a sense of urgency, so they get the most from their remaining years. (Locked) More »

Women sit more after retirement

A recent study found that on average women were sedentary 20 minutes more each day after they retired than they were before—an unhealthy pattern that can lead to a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. More »