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

Sunscreen confusion

Even if men are aware of the dangers of sun exposure, new research shows most do not follow basic guidelines. Proper use of sunscreen and sun protection can help older men avoid being among the one in five who will get skin cancer during his lifetime.  (Locked) More »

Are you missing early warning signs of hearing loss?

When a person has hearing loss, the person’s spouse or partner may notice the problem first. Early warning signs include asking people to repeat themselves, thinking everyone is mumbling, and missing important sounds like alarms and doorbells. People who have such early warning signs may need a physical exam and a hearing test. For some people, a hearing aid will improve hearing. Many hearing aids now feature high-tech options, such as digital sound that can be programmed and adjusted using a smartphone, and the ability to wirelessly connect a hearing aid to a smartphone for calls. (Locked) More »

Ask the Doctor: Can we prevent this type of dementia?

Some health experts are optimistic that one day we’ll be able to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and possibly reverse it. Until then, regular exercise, a healthy diet, controlled blood pressure, and weight control may help lower the risk. (Locked) More »

Knee buckling raises the risk of falls

Knee buckling is common in people with knee pain and knee osteoarthritis and raises the risk of falls and injuries. Strengthening the quadriceps muscles and doing balance exercises may help improve knee stability and reduce buckling.  More »

The genetic link between Alzheimer's and heart disease

When told they have a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, people may experience less distress if they learn that the same gene variant also increases their risk of heart disease. The gene, APOE, encodes for a protein that transports cholesterol in the bloodstream. People with one copy of the undesirable APOE variant, called e4, face double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease than those without that variant. They also have a slightly higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Learning about the heart-related risk appears to spur people to make healthy behavior changes, such as improving their diets, reducing their stress levels, and being more physically active.  (Locked) More »