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

Lowering blood pressure: How low should you go?

High blood pressure wreaks havoc in the circulatory system. It is a key contributor to heart attack and stroke. However, blood pressure that is too low can lead to problems such as blurry vision, dizziness, confusion, and fainting, which can diminish quality of life, especially in older people. In recognition of the trade-off between lower risk of cardiovascular disease and overall well-being, experts from three major heart groups have issued an updated set of blood pressure guidelines that call for a flexible approach in designing medication regimens for treating hypertension. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Why am I getting shorter?

After age 40, people lose a little less than half an inch in height with each decade. One can try to avoid losing height by eating foods with calcium, getting enough vitamin D, and staying physically active. (Locked) More »

Distracting music may trip up older memories

A study found that listening to distracting instrumental music might impair the ability to memorize pairs of names and faces in older people. In younger study participants, the music had no effect on memory recall for this task. (Locked) More »

Easy-does-it jogging may lead to a longer life

In one study, people who took a leisurely jog just a few times a week lived longer than those who avoided jogging. The joggers who reaped the longevity benefit ran for a total of one to 2.5 hours per week at a pace of about 5 mph. (Locked) More »

Should you take probiotics?

Probiotics can be helpful in some cases, but it’s unclear whether they are safe for all older adults. Preliminary information shows that some types of probiotics are safe for healthy older people, but it’s not known yet if probiotics prevent infections in the elderly. If someone has a health problem, especially an immune system weakened by illness or medication, that person could get sick from probiotics. People should not begin taking probiotics without talking to a doctor or pharmacist first. . (Locked) More »

The dollars and sense of long-term care

Most people will need some type of long-term care, but many people don’t plan for it. That pushes off decisions to family members, who might not make the decisions a person would have wanted. Types of long-term care include private-duty care at home, adult day care centers, assisted living, and nursing homes. It helps to work with legal and financial planners to determine now what type of long-term care will be wanted and how to pay for it. More »

Why you should thank your aging brain

As we age, the brain compensates for slower processing by using more of its capacity for tasks that require reasoning and judgment, and older people perform better at these tasks. REST, a protein that repairs brain cell damage, has been identified in older people. More »

Stay a step ahead of urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common among older adults, but the infections are often overdiagnosed and overtreated. In older adults, UTI symptoms include frequent urination, a sense of urgency to urinate, a burning feeling that occurs with urination, and confusion. Diagnosing a UTI requires testing a urine sample to look for bacteria and white blood cells. If positive, it’s necessary to grow the bacteria in a lab to see which type are causing infection. But even if a person has bacteria and white cells in the urine, it’s not a UTI unless symptoms are also present.  More »