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

Are colon cancer screenings necessary after a certain age?

Routine colon cancer screening is often not recommended for men over age 75 unless they have had precancerous polyps before or have a family history of colon cancer. However, men should consider having a colonoscopy at least once, even after age 75, if they have never had one. (Locked) More »

Men (back) at work

A stronger social life is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and depression and greater immune function. Men often struggle with building social circles after they retire. Recreating the social structure of the workplace can help men stay socially active, boost thinking skills they may have left behind from work, and develop new friendships. (Locked) More »

Positive outlook may mean better sleep

People who feel they have more meaning and purpose in life have fewer sleep problems. The connection could work two ways: people who feel good about their lives tend to be more proactive about maintaining good health, which is linked to better sleep, and people who battle issues that lower one’s outlook on life, like depression and heart disease, tend to have more sleeping problems. More »

Alzheimer’s wake-up call

Research has shown an association between poor sleep and a higher risk of accumulating beta-amyloid protein plaque in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The brain sweeps out excess amyloid proteins during slow-wave sleep, which is the deep sleep phase where memories are consolidated. It is still not clear if improving poor sleep or practicing good sleeping habits can protect against Alzheimer’s. Until more is known, experts suggest paying attention to sleep problems, like insomnia, sleep apnea, and nocturia (which causes people to wake up to use the bathroom). More »

Is it normal to lose my sense of smell as I age?

Some loss of the sensitivity to smells is normal as people get older, but there may be another explanation. The most common causes of loss of smell are nasal problems, which can be detected by a routine examination. (Locked) More »