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

5 tools to help you stand up on your own

Some tools can help people stand up from a seated position. For example, a “couch cane” provides additional support to get up off of a couch. A car grab bar slips into a door latch and acts as an extra support to lean on when exiting or entering a car. Rotating seat cushions help a person swing the legs into standing position. And furniture risers raise the height of a seat, which may also assist someone when standing. The ultimate assistance in getting up from a chair is an automatic electric recliner. More »

5 medications that can cause problems in older age

Medications that caused few if any side effects in youth can cause discomfort or risky side effects later in life. Common offenders include anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, sleeping pills, and tricyclic antidepressants. While a person may not have to avoid using these medications in older age, it may be necessary to use them carefully and judiciously: minimizing doses, using them only when necessary, and turning to other methods to manage symptoms when they arise. (Locked) More »

A look at better vision

For many older adults with increasing poor vision who may have cataracts, or get them in the future, lens replacement surgery (LRS) may be a good option, as it addresses both problems. LRS replaces the natural lens in an eye with a synthetic lens called an intraocular lens, which can correct vision problems so a person no longer needs glasses and will not develop cataracts in the future. More »

Bust your belly for a healthier heart

Visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity and pads the spaces between your abdominal organs. While it makes up only 10% of total body fat, it can have the biggest impact on health, as high amounts are linked with a greater risk of heart disease. Following a high-quality diet is necessary to lose visceral fat, but high-intensity aerobic exercise may help even more. An ideal visceral fat-burning workout is 20 to 30 minutes of some kind of high intensity exercise, at least three days a week. (Locked) More »

A leg up on peripheral artery disease

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries carrying blood to the leg muscles have narrowed, almost always because of a buildup of fatty plaque. PAD can cause leg pain or fatigue after just a few minutes of walking or climbing stairs, and it increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke. Addressing risk factors, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking, and adopting a regular walking program can help prevent PAD and manage symptoms if it occurs. (Locked) More »

Fight back against muscle weakness

Muscle weakness impairs health. It slows metabolism, puts more pressure on the joints, hurts posture, throws off balance, and limits mobility. Weakness may be caused by aging, inactivity, medication side effects, or underlying conditions such as neuropathy. A doctor can help sort out the cause of muscle weakness with a physical exam and sometimes some blood tests or nerve testing. A regular program of strengthening and stretching the muscles will make a big difference in health. (Locked) More »

It's never too late to start exercising

An observational study published online March 8, 2019, by JAMA Network Open found that older adults who didn’t start exercising until middle age had a similar lower risk of dying as those who had exercised consistently since they were teenagers. More »

Tips for better bowel control

Stool can leak out of the rectum accidentally—a condition called fecal incontinence—as a result of aging, an underlying condition, or damage to nerves or muscles. A fiber supplement such as Metamucil or Citrucel can help reduce incidents of loose stool leakage. An over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication such as loperamide (Imodium) can also help. A surgical procedure called sacral nerve stimulation can help curb solid stool incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises can also help reduce leakages, but won’t solve the problem. More »