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

Can brain training programs actually improve memory?

Brain training programs operate on the premise that practicing one cognitive task will translate into better memory and intelligence. However, available studies are often flawed. More research is needed before these programs are deemed to have any health benefit. (Locked) More »

Midlife heart health shows a link with future risk of dementia

People who have high blood pressure and diabetes and who smoke during middle age have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. These vascular (blood vessel) risk factors may leave them more prone to dementia 25 years later. Having diabetes in middle age may be almost as risky as having the gene variant known as APOE4, which is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Even slightly elevated blood pressure during midlife may be associated with dementia in later life. (Locked) More »

Older adults are drinking more alcohol

Excessive alcohol use among adults ages 65 or older increased significantly between 2001 and 2013. Older adults are at higher risk for disability, illness, and death from many alcohol-related chronic diseases, falls, and injuries. More »

Overcoming resistant hypertension

Resistant hypertension is when blood pressure remains at or above 140/90 mm Hg despite taking the highest dosage of at least three different blood pressure medications, including a diuretic. An estimated 10% to 20% of people currently treated for hypertension will become resistant. Addressing issues like sleep apnea, excess alcohol intake, and use of over-the-counter pain medications can often help correct resistant hypertension. (Locked) More »

Planning the rest of your life

As we age, the later years of life are likely to be filled with unexpected challenges and important decisions on a number of issues. Planning ahead for the eventualities of medical care and its costs, as well as end-of-life wishes, will make later-life situations easier to navigate. (Locked) More »

The pursuit of happiness

The Harvard Study on Adult Development, the longest-running study on happiness, has found certain behaviors and lifestyle choices can influence a person’s level of happiness, such as letting go of negative relationships and past failures and maintaining social connections. Participating in other activities like volunteering, joining support groups, exercising, and rediscovering childhood activities also can help increase and maintain levels of happiness. (Locked) More »

Why do I bruise more easily as I age?

Easy bruising is more common for older men due to less fat tissue and more fragile blood vessels. Common medications like blood thinners, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also can increase your risk. Men should see their doctor if they experience unusual or frequent bruising. (Locked) More »