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

An introvert’s guide to healthy social engagement

Research continues to stress the importance of social interaction to long-term health. On average, people who are more isolated are at a higher risk for heart disease, depression, and early death. Yet people who prefer solitude over group outings, are often at a disadvantage when it comes to social engagements. They can still tap into the health benefits of socializing without changing their personality by following some simple guidelines on how to engage with others. (Locked) More »

Feeling young could signal a younger brain

People who feel younger than their age scored higher on memory tests, rated themselves as healthy, and were less likely to have symptoms of depression compared with those who did not feel younger. More »

Why wound healing gets harder as we age

Wounds in older adults can take a long time to heal. Treatment involves a combination of approaches such as debridement, special dressings, keeping pressure off the wound, exercising, taking a multivitamin, and eating a healthy diet with the recommended amounts of protein. Because wounds are tricky, it’s important to try to prevent them by switching positions often; keeping an eye out for nicks, cuts, and early signs of pressure wounds; and controlling conditions that can lead to wounds, such as diabetes and venous insufficiency. (Locked) More »

Preventing Falls Infographic

Falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults, sending more than two million people to the emergency department each year. Falls often result in brain injuries, hip fractures, immobility, and even early death. Many fall hazards are right in our own homes, and a few inexpensive changes could lower your fall-risk. For other strategies and tips to avoid falls, check out Preventing Falls, the online guide from Harvard Medical School. More »

Looking for an earlier sign of Alzheimer’s disease

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment can be an early marker of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But new research has suggested there may be an even earlier clinical sign: subjective cognitive decline (SCD). SCD refers to a situation in which a person notices his thinking abilities are worsening, but standard memory tests can’t verify a decline. Since there is no test to diagnose SCD, the key is to increase self-awareness of changes in memory and consult a doctor as needed. (Locked) More »

Tips to cope when it’s time to downsize

Downsizing for a move to a smaller home may lead to feelings of sadness, grief, stress, or anxiety. To cope with those feelings, it helps to reach out to others and stay socially connected, hire a professional to assist with the downsizing process, and engage in a new community and find interesting activities or groups to join. If emotions interfere with the ability to get through each day, one should speak with a primary care doctor or a therapist. (Locked) More »