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

Is it dementia or something else?

People often fear that memory lapses, such as forgetting your keys or people’s names, are related to dementia. But there are also many more benign reasons for forgetfulness. A lack of sleep, certain medications, or even stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to memory problems. People experiencing memory lapses should see their doctor to investigate potential causes. (Locked) More »

Seeing your way to better eye health

Your eyes undergo natural changes that affect your vision as you age, but you are also more likely to develop eye diseases that may threaten your vision. These include age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Women are more likely than men to develop age-related eye diseases, partially because they live longer. Getting regular vision care and following a healthy lifestyle can help ensure that your vision remains intact. More »

Should I continue PSA screening for prostate cancer?

While some guidelines suggest stopping prostate cancer screening after age 70, the decision to continue depends on a man’s general health and life expectancy. Before a man decides to continue with PSA testing, he should consider what he would do with an abnormal result. While getting a biopsy provides the most crucial information, other non-invasive tests can help with decision making. Most prostate cancers diagnosed by screening are low-grade. So, men have a choice to monitor the cancer rather than proceed to immediate treatment. More »

Tips to retrieve old memories

To reactivate an old memory, one must think about the perceptions that were engaged as the memory was being recorded. These perceptions include images, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, thoughts, or feelings of an experience. To trigger such recorded perceptions, one can look at old photographs, read a familiar poem, hold an old article of clothing, read an old letter, listen to a favorite old song, cook a family recipe, or watch an old movie or TV show. More »

’Tis the (allergy) season

Spring is prime time for seasonal pollen allergies, and older adults shouldn’t be surprised if they develop new allergy symptoms.  Getting an allergy test to identify specific allergens and using common over-the-counter remedies can often manage symptoms. If these are ineffective, allergy shots may help. People can further protect themselves by avoiding the outdoors when the pollen count is high. (Locked) More »

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 »

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 »